Sitting for Himself

by Jane O. Wayne

(after a line drawing by Borges)


No need of light,
he knows the subject well enough
for years has shaved
without a mirror, his fingers practicing
the planes and contours—
not a caress,
more like sculpting, hands
fashioning a face
which in fact he does,

but with a pen and paper.
At his desk, he seems to gaze
toward some horizon
no one else can see,
while the pen works
on its own, sketches a line
of thought that’s convoluted.
Off and on, he’ll pause
while drawing,

even lift the pen
and lose his place
as a painter might
when a model shifts a pose.
Then he’ll resume—anywhere
on the page will do—until putting
the pen aside,
he finishes the portrait.
In time, someone else

will enter the room,
bringing words
as if to turn a light on—words
such as: faces over faces,
zigzags, trembly.
Not flaws for him,
truer to the self—lines,
nerves, a whole network—
the pen drawing the inside-out.

JANE O. WAYNE’S work has appeared in Poetry, The Iowa Review, Ploughshares, The American Scholar, The Journal, The Cincinnati Review, The Massachusetts Review, Poetry Northwest, The Michigan Quarterly Review, Verse Daily and elsewhere. Her books include Looking Both Ways, which received the Devins Award for Poetry, and A Strange Heartwhich received the Marianne Moore Prize and the Society of Midland Authors Award, and From the Night Album (Pecan Grove) and The Other Place You Live (Mayapple Press).