02 January, 2015

temptress

This is a repost of repost of a... You get the idea. One of my failed blogs was supposed to be devoted to creative writing and I planned to start by posting a few pieces of poetry from, well, let's call the unfulfilled promise of my youth.

Side note: I once started an essay dedicated to thanking the talented faculty of Utica College, where my dad taught, for all the things they taught me when I was a middle and high school student running around the campus. Dr. Nassar was somehow persuaded to offer me an independent study in poetry writing. I have a really hard time thinking of something I'd like to do less than read a 15-year-old girl's self-absorbed musings on a weekly basis, but he was an extremely patient and generous mentor.

Back to the point: This is actually not about my poetry at all. Instead of posting my own work on that defunct blog, I started with this piece, which is the only poem (to my knowledge) ever written about me.

temptress

She says she hates pictures
because she never seems to
look right in them. I think
she hates pictures because
they steal her.

For a moment,
she sits on my bed,
poised against the background
of my chaos.
She stares at the camera,
her lover.
She smiles a challenge.
I am beautiful.
Caught, enchanted, mesmerized
by her calm seduction,
the camera wants her. It opens
to capture her, but instead
the light, the world falls under her
hechizo.

This is her picture
and she is beautiful.

CB, April 2000

By the time I first reposted it, I had held on to it for almost ten years. It was a rare gift to see myself through someone else's eyes. This is, of course, a flattering portrayal, and it's probably true that we often don't appreciate the truth of our own beauty. On the other hand, it is also raises the question of how much what we see when we look at others is a reflection of ourselves. The interface of self/other is probably especially important when we write about people we know well, intimately even.

When I read this now, I read it as a classic story of confidence and insecurity, strength and vulnerability in (teenage) relationships. So many of my friends, like me, were so very, very good at not revealing our insecurities, even when their voices were never quiet in our heads... To each other, the person being observed looked stronger, more confident, and more gorgeous that the observer ever imagined herself to be. When I watched the White Winter Hymnal a cappella video that I posted a few weeks ago, I thought, Was I ever that pulled-together in college? The answer: No, but I probably looked like it most of the time, to outsiders. So who does this poem reveal more about? The author or the subject?