Self-Portrait: May I Touch You

Jorie Graham

                                                                          here. May I touch your
                                                                          name. Your
                                                                          capital. May I
touch outcome, kindness, slur down my caresses to
throat, eyes, end of the tunnel. Come out. Now your name is changed. How do I reach
right name, right bandage – the character that you will be for now
in the dark, where there is need – is there still need? – can you be for this short time
singular? You need to be singular. There you are changing again. These words are
                                                                          furrows. Now they are
arrows. Don’t touch where it says no. It says no everywhere. Where is the spot where you
are faking it. That spot. So well. Can you tell. Doesn’t work for you. What works for you.
The rouge you have applied to see who you would be for a while. You
change your mind. You change the shade. You recognise yourself for a while
then it grows old. The pupae in the mud grow old. They’ve slicked it smooth as skin with
perfect perforations. All entrances and exits. The only way, right way, the pupae morph
                                                                          to their winged
stage and grow. They exit not to return. Those who laid them do not return. They
                                                                          change from
unborn to being here now, 67 degrees under the eaves as they come out. I watch. Nothing
can change out here in the given. It is given and it is received. If ants find the pupae
they eat the nest through. Sometimes they get to live their life. I know you need to be
                                                                          a significant player in
                                                                          the creation of
                                                                          your veri-
similitude. Abide abide. Do you do nude. Can I touch your apparition, your attitude,
multitude, your eternally misunderstood solitude – do you do adulthood, husbandhood,
motherhood – listen: sap in the dogwood – not like blood, crude, flood, lassitude – I want you
to come unglued – clad in nothing but blood – in it – dripping wet – appearing always re-
                                                                          reappearing,
of course wearing your camouflage – whatever you currently identify as – clad in your
surface your newest reason – may I touch it – your phantom your place-
holder, undelivered, always in the birth canal, undiscovered – your personal claim on
the future, residue of all the choices you’ve made thus far, also the purchases, invoices, in
voice where your change resides, in vice where it settles – skin – a win win – the management
wishes to express concern – can I touch there where you appear in the mirror – where you lay
your simulacra down – lave the mercurial glass – bypass being – hardly a ping where you
boomerang – here you are back outside – ghost money –
                                                                          do you not want to feel
                                                                          the fierce tenacity of
the only body you can sacrifice – the place where it is indeed your
fault – there in the fault – no heartsearching? Me with my hands on the looking glass
where your life for the taking has risen, where you can shatter into your million pieces –
all appareled refusal. What are you a sample of today –
what people.