Face

[Content note: rape, self-injury]

Cornelia Parker's string-covering of Rodin's The Kiss. Photograph: Tate Gallery.

Face

It is hard to look down at 2 bodies
when one of the bodies is yours.
It is hard to look down lovingly at the body that is yours
when it is the body with no face.

Years later, you look in the mirror
and wonder: Is it your face?
Is it any face?
The features seem to slip and smear
unsteadily tacked on
over nothing.

That night, away from the mirror
you hold a razor against your throat and realize
suddenly you are breathing again.
Perhaps, if only someone else could hold that razor
lovingly, all night, against your throat
then that would be a night you sleep.
You close your eyes and picture the face
that is no one’s face,
you picture the razor slicing against her blank cheeks
opening up across her empty forehead —
as if with deliberate intensity
or the artistry of a sculptor chiseling rock
you could give that girl on the floor back her face.
Any face.

It is 25 years too late.
You kiss the lips that are no lips
Goodbye
Goodnight
you put the razor down
you pull the covers up.

~a.i.


“Face” is part of an ongoing memory project. Its companion piece is “Scar.”
Additional installments can be found here.

Image: Cornelia Parker’s string-covering of Rodin’s The Kiss. Photograph: Tate Gallery.

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