Session 5 was about our condition as expatriates in the city as home. Ron started obstruction #8 by asking us to take a selfie with our phones or to watch ourselves in the mirror and to try to draw a sketch of ourselves, a self-portrait. I did, and this is the result.
He asked us to notice what we drew and what we avoided. I avoided eyes, the nose and all the spots on my skin, while glasses, my style and my messy hair seemed relevant and strongly present. He then gave us the guidelines.
Title must be “Self-Portrait as….” An everyday object or something that seems at first unlike you.
Some memory from adolescence.
Make what’s absent present.
Action (What the poem does).
Self-portrait as blue eye-shadow
First Draft Version
So that day I said, I’m going to wash my hands quickly
After eating as much pasta as it was humanly possible.
She nodded yes, and helped him zip up his sweater.
I heard her cursing him as I walked through the hallway.
The lampshade of the toilet was shaped as a big chunk of quartz.
She had always had everything a girl could want.
Her lipsticks were called camellia, lobster, Moulin rouge red.
And she had this this dark blue and dusty eye-shadow
I have never found in a shop and still can’t.
Her drawer would open under my fingertips
As my personal Pandora’s vase. I had always put on her
Brown eyeliner and gone out the toilet without her telling me
To wash my face.
I would put on her pearl necklaces dangling over my belly.
Her clothes would make the whole PETA pissed
Ocelot, leopard, fox and wolf would dangle as well
From the coat hangers of my favourite Narnia.
She would laugh, watching me stumble in my feet.
The day I heard my grandpa groan and her swearing
She told him, you were a fucking surgeon, how’s it possible
You can’t zip up your own sweater now?
I heard him screaming, of course I can, if you give me a minute.
We all knew he couldn’t.
I headed to the toilet, thinking of when he had
Pretended not to limp when the family doctor
Had come to see him.
I sat on the toilet and opened her drawer.
The pearly pink of the quartz-shaped lampshade
Made my eyes shine over the makeup I craved for.
But the dark blue eye-shadow was finished,
an empty, old golden box with no magic dust.
The eyeliner was not sharp. Lipstick tubes were consumed,
There was only a small splotch of colour at the bottom.
I heard him saying, I’m fine, I’m well. It was the last time he told so.
She kept on wearing those old furs and coats,
And I bought my own wolf fur. I looked like her.
She started pushing his wheelchair, but she kept on
Hissing you were a fucking surgeon, how
Can’t you walk now?
She was so angry, but had heavy tears in her eyes.
I still look for her dark blue eye-shadow,
Lipsticks with magical names and brown eyeliner.
She didn’t throw them away. As she pushes his wheelchair,
The empty eye-shadow box lies in the drawer, perfectly still.