The Face

by Juliana Daugherty

It was not the suddenness of its apparition
that frightened me most, though I was startled:
the white haze of it suspended, breath-like,
in the smooth dark of the kitchen window
when I looked up from the sink.

Form was all I could discern—the visible self
severed from its significance,
like the lines I scrawled on a chalkboard
decades ago, as punishment, the physical ache
strengthening as each word more and more
divorced itself from meaning.

It must have been mine
because I could feel the pain
of the loss of it. The other, interior self
grew weak with its loss, the ubiquitous darkness
pressing the two apart, the void
halving and hollowing me.

I cannot take what is terrible
and turn it into beauty: the drab, slack mouth,
the puckering skin, the dark eyes
rising from the darkness beyond them.

Still the terror of that foreignness
possesses me, acute
and solid. I was only trying
to look past the glass. There in the night the stars
and the fireflies burned on, unaware
of the limits of their lives.

JULIANA DAUGHERTY is a student in the MFA program at the University of Virginia. Her poetry is forthcoming in The Asheville Poetry Review.