Magazine: Velvet February 2010
Model: Max Barreau
“Thirteen Ways of Looking at Narcissus”
stillness is beauty his mother always said,
and so he stands inanimate.
his eyes are always so iced;
imagine mercury frozen.
they match the mirror on his bedroom wall,
tall and thin with
a pewter frame
which matches a silk hair-halo like white gold.
(morning is his favorite time of day to look.)
against the oddly pale light and dark carpet
he was film negative,
all shadowed planes sharp angles.
beneath a frail strength of sinew and muscle
wilted, stem limbs showing residual signs
of once having been long and graceful.
vanity is a favorite sin.
no need to dream up a world.
his was right here trapped in the glass.
it was simple:
he was loved.
what more does one need save love?
there are thirteen ways to admire oneself,
he’s always said.
the list goes on,
but any way he is always left stuttering,
noiseless and stagnant
like the muddy backyard pond.
would frame his face nicely.
he prefers a looking glass
wishes he could fall through it,
wouldn’t her blue dress look nice against his skin?
he hates when shower steam fogs up the glass –
tarnished silver –
because then he cannot see
the fine tracery of veins beneath cellophane skin
like purple ink that’s bled through cheap paper.
he likes the way they pulse and curve
like bass drums,
like the Mississippi
so he keeps the mirror polished,
leaves the bathroom window open
when under the showerhead,
that way the window won’t fog up either.
when it’s night outside
he can see his silhouette
in the blue-black glass.
it looks thinner then.
black is slimming and a waif he has become.
his bones look better that way.
hard edges. dangerous.
he came to know himself.*
now he is wasted
as he fades to a flower, a whisper.
he thinks only one thing,
if there will ever be a story about him.
there should be.
*Reference to the Greek Myth about Narcissus. In Ovid’s version of the tale, the prophet Tiresias predicts he will live to a ripe old age only “if he didn’t come to know himself.”
pic source: Fashion Gone Rogue
original poem by me, based on Wallace Stevens' "Thirteen Ways of Looking at A Blackbird"