29 November 2014

Saturday Poem

Self-Portrait in Iceland

The face is featureless,
As though bound in tight gauze,
And therefore presents a mien
Of deadly restraint, and for a moment
It terrifies, this visage
Shorn of expression, the first impulse
Is to recoil from what appears
To be willful, if bloodless and unscarred,
Mutilation, but somehow
The set of the head, its angled tilt,
Imparts a liveliness to the sitter
That defies a nullity because it captures
Light from an unseen window
And reflects from an unseen radiance
A sanguine assertion of self
Drawn from tones of glacial tides
And roseate pumice stone.
The hands, extremities at rest
In the sitter’s lap just over the knees
And crossed at the wrists, are nearly convivial,
Inward-cupped, not articulated but nonetheless
Eloquent in their assured capacity
For labor, the lack of delicate modeling
Suggests a readiness
To take hold, to lend themselves
To tasks at hand, but the rudimentary
Aspect reveals no crudeness of character
In the sitter, no vulgarity, on the contrary
The hands are free from guile and coarse use,
They echo the face in elemental probity,
Holding in quick, almost offhand fashion
Gulps of sun,
Chunks of flame
In the shade of bleached volcanoes. 
-- Deborah Pease

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