Self-Portrait Facing Death
It looks like a crude thing a child might draw
with its crayoned pink and simple features
little more than a doodle with a face,
though after peering at it for a while
it begins to appear less infantile.
See how the stubble on the upper lip,
the hair on the jaw, the bony shoulders,
give the figure an archetypal feel
something totemic a tribesman would paint
or is it an image more ancestral
still, the low forehead, ape-like skull and brow
evoking mankind in primordial times
and this rough-hewn visage our prototype?
But study the face’s geometry,
for are the mouth and lips parallel lines,
those eye sockets distorted rectangles,
the nose and the creased skin beneath
forming semi-circles and triangles,
and do not these symbols of abstraction
suggest an intellectuality
and the evolution of modern man?
It seems all of these, yet it is the eyes
that mesmerize, wide open and exposed
those portals to the aging artist’s soul,
bewildered, vulnerable, yet resolute,
displaying fear and courage facing death,
their gaze both a window and a mirror.
Then I realize that this masterpiece
contains us all and is everything
we are and everything we have been.
Born and raised in Cardiff, Wales, Ian has an MA in English from Oxford University. He lives in Taiwan with his wife, two daughters and cat. He teaches English in a high school. He has had poems and short stories published in 1947 A Literary Journal, Dead Snakes, Schlock! Webzine, Short-story.me, Anotherealm, Under the Bed, A Story In 100 Words, Poems and Poetry, Friday Flash Fiction, and in various anthologies.
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