self-portrait: george brassai
by Jessica Goody
A bare torso
The narrow pit
Of the navel a cavern,
A black hole
In the galaxy of your frame.
Breasts rolling like eyes,
Bands of light stretch across your abdomen.
Armpits and pelvis lined in black
As though streaked with tar.
The line bisecting your body
From breast bone to uterine point
As though a white-gloved
Surgeon is standing
Out of frame, ready
To press down
With the silver arrow of his scalpel,
Drawing blood darker than any shadow.
The portrait of your
Sinewy, bare expanse of skin
Lying helpless as a suicide risk
Strapped to a stretcher, a velvet chaise lounge,
With leather bands;
Not so much a fashion statement
As a tool of self-preservation.
I can imagine
Your silvery skin
Peeled back, pinned in place
Like a biology-class vivisection,
And anchored with hypodermic-sharp
Nails from Jesus’ cross.
Pearl-white and gleaming in bas-relief,
Like black-light posters
In a crack house,
Glowing in grandmother’s teak hutch.
Not a photograph
Or a French postcard
a la Bellocq’s cathouse nudes,
as an x-ray
glowing on a neon screen.
~ first published in Cyclamens and Swords