08 November 2010


PROMPT: Photos by Diane Arbus. Click on the link to view some. Here's the poem I wrote...

After two photographs by Diane Arbus:
"Self-Portrait, Pregnant, NYC, 1945" and
"Albino Sword Swallower at a Carnival"

When I sit down to write I am
the photographer who has stepped from
behind her camera and
undressed. This is why each time the film
moves forward and the shutter clicks
it is called exposure.

We see in the mirror
on the back of a bedroom door
the bed draped in mid-century chenille
which flows away like the sea and
escapes the blank apartment walls.
She is pregnant with her first child.
She took the photo
to send to her absent husband.
The child will be a girl.

When she snapped the one of
the carnival woman swallowing the sword
was she making a plea for
an unimpeded voice or
watching her own death:
the straight path from heart to mouth
with no sudden woundings?

The woman without color spreads her arms wide
as if in ecstatic praise, as if in bloom.
A weathered tent billows darkly against her back.
Wind tugs at the guy wires. Her tiered
& scalloped skirt sways left as she leans right.
See me, her body seems to say, from a chest so full.
See me   --  Click!
See me open.

PS: Follow the link to find out more about photographer Diane Arbus on Artsy.