Self-Portrait of the Artist as a Model for Once


The parting image of many a Hitchcock picture

     antiprotagonist sitting still as death

          with empty visage staring rigidly outward

Such is my pinch-hit presentation to a class

     more than eager to take me up on filling in

          being not simply their studio instructor

But a natural subject for attempted portrayal

     having that already exaggerated utility

          a Gilbertian caricature of a face

While displaying to them this aspect of myself

     I contemplate another previously overlooked

          when I pursued my own studies la Narcissus


Transferring from mirror to sketchbook or canvas

     that schismatic face gazing back at mine

          and keeping it carefully self-contained

Now having been grounded in the basics

     my dozen students reflectively shadowbox

          me in on their charcoal-covered newsprint

And I imparting them mastery by withdrawing mine

     film over my focal point to avoid transfixion

          by any of four-and-twenty piebald eyes

For one's soul can be stolen through duplicity

     or even by a mere mirror upon the wall

          (such was the unmistaken Aboriginal view)

Turn the artful loose and will they not turn upon you?

     let them take away your likeness and how long untaken

          can the site of your inherent birthright remain?



Copyright 1989, 2004  by P. S. Ehrlich

Images copyright 2002 by TLC Productivity Properties LLC, and its licensors:all rights reserved.  Images may not be downloaded or saved; used only for viewing purposes.

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