On Reflection, by Ann de Forest
for Larry Lutchmansingh
Room compressed to claustrophobia, woman’s world reduced to this:
3 colours – drab, curdled, black -- her own flesh caught somewhere in between;
4 objects -- skull, box, mirror, candle (masked by skull) – wift of flame,
sole spark of light. Skull -- brainless, jawless, breathless – sits
atop the shuttered box, doubled in the mirror’s glass. Woman, worn
by chiaroscuro’s unsettled truce, leans, elbow propped upon
her vanity. Death doubles down its argument, the finite
truth her fingertips confirm, resting on that empty cranium. Dark
rises, consumes her lower half, undermines the table legs, stakes
its claim as stabilizing force. Back turned against encroaching shadows,
woman breathes the slim flame slant. She sees what darkness
does not comprehend: Light casts the shadows, carves the hollows, forms
flesh and wood and bone from airless void, makes skull shine and frail cloth glow,
generates reflection. Light is substance. Light is source. Light reigns.
Ann de Forest
Ann de Forest studied the history of art at Bowdoin College and University of North Carolina before turning to writing. Her work often centres on the resonance of place .Her short stories, essays, and poetry have appeared in Coal Hill Review, Unbroken, Noctua Review, Cleaver Magazine, Found Poetry Review, The Journal, Hotel Amerika, Timber Creek Review, Open City, and PIF, and in Hidden City Philadelphia, where she is a contributing writer. She has documented stories of displacement for Al Bustan: Seeds of Culture and examined the bonds that develop between home health care providers and their patients in the photo essay book Healing on the Homefront. Nominated for a Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net, she is currently editing an anthology of essays about walking, Slow Going, to be published by New Door Books next spring, a project inspired by having twice walked the entire perimeter of Philadelphia, the city she has called home for three decades.
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