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MUSING ON A SELF-PORTRAIT
by Mary-Marcia Casoly

An invisible smile on the world
like the new moon, we are an impostor
and the photograph captures
the whites of my eye:
more hawk than sparrow,
how unsettling, how difficult to read
a blind crow down a well.
A perfect charcoal line smudge the shaft of my nose,
shadows fill our abyss.
There is that one black coarse hair in the thick arc of
eyebrow which begs plucking.
Out of that single eye spills crow’s feet
as if my face is her mask formed over with
desire in blackouts or should it be whiteout–
shuttling sorrow from the milky way. The face is extremely cropped.
This unsettling visage-
her head resting upon my hand. My hand holding up
her head. She/Me lay out beneath the mask sky
tonight, learn.  What is a meteor?
Do you remember how when we were children, we were chastised
for staring. Don’t be vulgar, someone would say across the dining room table.
    Strangeness is a necessary ingredient in beauty
laughs Baudelaire.
For hours make we an appearance
all peaked and small waves
—yet it shines, this love, it keeps.
    There is no exquisite beauty without some sense of strangeness
in its proportions, quotes Poe
A giant bruise of smeared blue shadow.
The horizon itself must bear so much on its back, like the moon,
like the earth. Your soul will not want to avoid or neglect regions of your heart
that do not fit the expected, whispers Poe.

AUTHOR’S NOTE: Blind in one eye since birth, some people find it unsettling; then again, people found this self-portrait unsettling and so I began to muse once again, settling the subject for myself.

IMAGE: “Dante and Beatrice” by Odilon Redon (1914).

CASOLY

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Mary-Marcia Casoly is the author of Run to Tenderness (Pantograph&Goldfish Press, 2002) and the editor of Fresh Hot Bread, a local zine for Waverley Writers, an open poetry forum based in the San Francisco Bay area. Her chapbook Lost Pages of Bird Lore was published by Small Change Series, WordTemple Press (2011) Her chapbook Australia Dreaming is included in the The Ahadada Reader 3, published by Ahadada Press (2010) and is also included in Obsession: Sestinas for the Twenty-First Century, edited by Carolyn Beard Whitlow and Marilyn Krysl by Dartmouth College Press (2014) Her poems “Song of Mayhem” and “Venus on the Half Year” were published in recent Silver Birch Press anthologies.