Seduction of Self / marion bethel

You will love again the stranger who was your self,
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you.
Derek Walcott

Turn off the light. I am 49.
Reptiles have grown feathers,
wings & flying breasts,
skipped crawling & walking,
since the last battle royale
with my blood, skin & bone.
I am 49. Not yet ready
to love this kleenex heart.

The mirror asks in the wet dark:
who are you?
We were then face to face
mouth to mouth.

We danced to Stevie’s For Once in My Life,
but not before I reached
through the liquid glass
to touch her.
“I’m multigrained, split at the centre,”
she said. “I am seaweed wine too.”
I thumbed the cliff of collarbone,
the skyline of cheeks,
rivulets of wrinkled belly
& danced.

What does the body desire
as it re-shapes the letter X
& relaxes into Y.
Walk in on your self then.
Turn on the light.
Just wipe the steam from the mirror.
Wipe it, wipe it some more,
with the soles of your feet
& the hump of your back
if you must.
Just wipe. Wipe.

The mirror asks again:
Who are you
When there’s no witness but you.

•••

Marion Bethel is a Bahamian poet, fiction writer and essayist whose work has appeared in publications too numerous to list. She edited a special section of the Caribbean Writer called “Poetry from The Bahamas” which was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Bethel was awarded a James Michener Fellowship by the Caribbean Writers Summer Institute at the University of Miami, in 1991 and the Casa de las Americas Prize for her first poetry collection, Guanahani, My Love, which was published in a bilingual edition in 1995, and republished in 2009 by House of Nehesi. In 1998 she was awarded the Alice Proskauer Poetry Fellow at the Bunting Institute of Radcliffe College. Her second book of poems, Bougainvillea Ringplay, was published by Peepal Tree in 2010.

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