I should like it to resemble some deep old desk, or capacious hold-all, in which one flings a mass of odds and ends without looking them through. (Virginia Woolf) We become ourselves through others, and the self is a porous thing, not a sealed container (Siri Hustvedt) En vez de mirarme en mi espejo quiero que mi espejo se mire en mí (Alejandra Pizarnik)
I have a fascination for faces. I think a face is not just a face, it is everything but a face.
In his Birthday Letters to Sylvia Plath, Ted Hughes offers us some splendid poetic portraits of the American poet. “It was never a face in itself. Never the same. It was like the sea’s face- a stage for weathers and currents, the sun’s play and the moon’s.”
“First sight. First snapshot isolated
Unalterable, stilled in the camera’s glare,
Than ever you were again. Swaying so slender
It seemed your long, perfect. American legs
Simply went on up. That flaring hand.
Those long, balletic, monkey-elegant fingers.
And the face- a tight ball of joy.
I see you there, clearer, more real
Than in any of the years in its shadow-
As if I saw you that once, then never again.
The loose fall of hair- that floppy curtain
Over your face, over your scar. And your face
A rubbery ball of joy
Round the African-lipped, laughing, thickly
Crimson-painted mouth. And your eyes
Squeezed in your face, a crush of diamonds.
Incredibly bright, bright as a crush of tears
That might have been tears of joy, a squeeze of joy.”
18 Rugby Street
“A great bird, you
Surged in the plumage of your excitement,
Raving exhilaration. A blueish voltage-
Fluorescent cobalt, a flare of aura
That I later learned was yours uniquely.
And your eyes’ peculiar brightness, their oddness.
And I became aware of the mystery
Of your lips, like nothing before in my life,
Their aboriginal thickness. And of your nose.
Broad and Apache, nearly a boxer’s nose,
Scorpio’s obverse to the Semitic eagle
That made every camera your enemy,
The jailor of your vanity, the traitor
In your Sexual Dreams Incorporated,
Nose from Attila’s horde: a prototype face
That could have looked up at me through the smoke
Of a Navajo campfire. And your small temples
Into which your hair-roots crowded, upstaged
By a glamorous, fashionable bang.
And your little chin, your Pisces chin.
It was never a face in itself. Never the same.
It was like the sea’s face- a stage
For weathers and currents, the sun’s play and the moon’s.”