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Recorded for Poem-a-Day, February 12, 2018.
About this Poem 
“I began this poem with the precision and possibility of the line in mind. I had been reading through the archived letters of Vincent van Gogh’s brother, drawn to the intermingling language used to talk about art and desire. This poem came out of a concern around the difficulty of approximating a self-portrait, how the first step of pinning down a shifting self requires a messy trickery.”
—Lucia LoTempio
 

Mirror Theory

How-to
with a wolf head
in it: magic
 
says rub
tooth to your gum, sleep
with cheek
matted to your
 
sweat—first you
must kill it.
Post
 
a letter of carved
wood that sings
like howl.
 
What happens after
the cast—where
to dispose
of used up
 
fur coil
and red.
 
Kept saying
new when I had
 
looked for nothing.
There’s a whole
 
word for wind
in France,
northeast and dry;
 
I have not been
given one
to say how
 
canvas cuts
a tree’s bottom
and top
with grey poplars.
 
My stretch of cells
still repeating.
 
The nuns
made my body
a holy cathedral,
impenetrable—yet
 
a temple is a widest
entrance; place
of herded into.
 
Still have
a wolf and it’s still
breathing. From its mouth
crawls another.
 
Then from that,
it happens again; throat
combed by teeth.
 
It became
we and I was
 
a portrait
with many hearts in it.

Copyright © 2018 by Lucia LoTempio. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on February 12, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.

Copyright © 2018 by Lucia LoTempio. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on February 12, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.

Lucia LoTempio

Lucia LoTempio

Lucia LoTempio is the coauthor, with Suzannah Russ Spaar, of the chapbook Undone in Scarlet (Tammy, 2018).