Wednesday, August 3, 2011
An Artist's Abashed Confession
Tell me, good Brutus, can you see your face?
No, Cassius; for the eye sees not itself,
But by reflection, by some other things.
act 1, sc II, “Julius Caesar,” Shakespeare
The face comes first, as if to test its welcome –
knowing it is prey to half-delighted, half-impatient,
volatile analysis too tumbled inward to be trusted
past a few quick hints of instinct: but the face comes,
burrows in, as it knows how, as it’s allowed, to find
a place to settle in and look back – at and out.
The words come now, sometimes un-vexed –
sometimes perplexed – at having yet again to wed
another medium whose rules make fools of anything
not it. But words are used to fumbling, and their
stumbling sometimes makes a nice distraction, opens
like a lotus, now and then attracts the face’s notice –
before inevitably it looks back – at, out – unnervingly.
It seems so absolutely sure it ought to be. Meanwhile
everything acquires style – held up backward to the light,
it shows me where to make corrections. Words
make more and more of their procedural inspections
until finally the whole morass is past redeeming.
Seeming's done, wad is shot.
What have I got?
Something that looks back at me.