NaPoWriMo Poem #17

Portrait of an Old Man

of an old man
taken with camera
twenty years after
he drew a portrait
of a lady, with words
on paper, serialized
in a magazine.

Portrait unseen
by most students
of his creation,
they know him
by his description,
of Isabel,
not by his beard,
his glasses,
or the shape of his head.

[Henry James, taken in 1900, from LIFE magazine photo archive]

0 thoughts on “NaPoWriMo Poem #17

  1. DL Emerick

    You look plainly on a face,
    read body language of physique,
    hoping to understand a man,
    a woman, a child, God.

    Even watching my motions,
    you learn nothing worthy of me;
    our bodies are not ourselves,
    but merely a domain of care,
    a territory for a suzerainty,
    undisputed and absolute ruler,
    czar and kaiser and dictator.

    I’ve forgotten your face,
    its place-holding role for me,
    the face you never see,
    the body you never hug,
    needing me to do that,
    when I’m not thinking of you.

    Getting beneath your skin?
    I reach out and touch you,
    across a void never filled,
    trading your body for you,
    polishing my idol of you.

    You speak, movingly, words,
    tiny sounds as signs of you,
    moving my thinking from you,
    perhaps, perhaps, to an idea,
    neither of you nor me,
    which we both may live.

    Your body comes and goes,
    leaving your spirit behind,
    freeing your words of you,
    echoing you, eternally.

    And, yet, personally,
    I want you, all of you,
    words within, flesh without,
    all that I never could have,
    possessed as I am of me,
    disposed to being an idea,
    I am always that I am.