self-portrait from three years ago (a poem)

Inspired by a photograph from three years ago (and an English subtitle from a Japanese drama I was watching on Hulu).

three years ago‘…but you weren’t yourself after all.’

The world you knew had ceased to exist;
everything was now different.
Even the little bit of same around the edges
could not change this new essential truth.

It had etched itself in the lines of your face,
everything now tracing inward.
Shadows filled the spaces between in shades of defeat,
your eyes as dead as blackened teeth.

Mourning took hold,
but the tears would not fall—
as if they’d somehow sensed
the futility of it all.

So you froze the expression in a photograph,
deep emotion on full display.
But the starkness of the image shocked you nonetheless:
the camera captured what you’d thought was hidden from view.

It seems you were yourself after all…

(15 October 2014)

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