Put Me Back Together When I Die
after Charlotte Salomon
The painter has three selves
plucked like daisies
queerly mouthing lullabies -
she loves me, loves me not.
In the corner, a child with a ball
the color of a Nazi uniform.
Her mother’s death was suicide:
no one tells the girl.
Above her head, a wagon
rolling over pitchers made of glass.
Exile, and her father sutures lies
with sickness still inside.
Below her chin, a rigid chair
where Opa made her sit, blue
to match the dress as pieces of her left,
drowning like blind kittens in their sack.
What is a self-portrait
when your only life won’t hold?
Shattered tulips wilting,
a heap of pears gone brown.
She bows before the sunflower
who hides his face like God.
Turned away, her disassembled face refracts
in fourteen hundred frames.
Each gouache cries, in empty boots,
in scattered drawings of a grave,
still, still, still, in hands that break,
pleading for a life.
Carrie Heimer writes and teaches in Fairbanks, Alaska. Her work has appeared in The Comstock Review, Relief, Rock & Sling, The Windhover, and Atlanta Review. Please read more of her work at her website: www.poetryissalt.com.
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