"Original Face"

A weekly poem, read by the author.
Oct. 8 2002 11:15 AM

Original Face

Listen to Henri Cole reading this poem. Some mornings I wake up kicking like a frog.

My thighs ache from going nowhere all night.

I get up—tailless, smooth-skinned, eyes protruding—

and scrub around for my original face.

It is good I am dreaming, I say to myself.

The real characters and events would hurt me.

The real lying, shame, and envy would turn

even a pleasure-loving man into a stone.

Instead, my plain human flesh wakes up

and gazes out at real sparrows skimming the luminous

wet rooftops at the base of the mountain.

No splayed breasts, no glaring teeth, appear before me.

Only the ivory hands of morning touching

the real face in the real mirror on my bureau.

Henri Cole's most recent book is Touch, which received the Jackson Poetry Prize. He teaches at Ohio State University.

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