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Marj Hahne, finalist in the first MMM Poetry Online & in print Contest
To be an artist…you have to nurture the things that most people discard.
—photographer Richard Avedon
On the 9 train heading uptown, a man with a Duane Reade bag
teeming with scraps from someone else’s cast-out life, finds
home in a little girl’s face. His long pencil strokes a white page
clipped to a stack thick with others’ faces not yet found. He is
happy there, in the dark almond of her eye, then her nose, then
her shy pleased mouth. Across the park, Richard Avedon looks for
faces in stones: some funny, others malevolent, no two alike. He is
his own widow, every photo the death and deathlessness of a moment—
each a fragment of his own stony face.
The gazed, the original gazer, then there’s
you: Whose truth, whose tragic
isolation lies in a portrait? Whose unflinching
contradiction is outlived? The snake
that wrapped itself around Nastassja Kinski’s naked length flickered
its forked tongue to tease the quiet fruit of her cheek.
Richard Avedon, limner of the invisible: two million people saw a snake
kissing a goddess. No, then no, then no, then yes. His father,
no father in life, turns to light. So what, that we are skulls, wrapped
in the skin of our ravenous lives. Tell that to the one who dreamed
of rubbing a queen bee’s secretions on the beekeeper’s body: the
hundreds of drones cover their keeper’s face, no, no, no—his face
is a martyr’s—yes. Beautiful, grotesque, the face tells a story, a portrait
foreknows only the ineluctable end. My subway stop comes too soon:
I want to stay here, to witness the portrait, finished, to see his pencil comb her
hair, trace the halved fig of her ear, cup her chin before the world forgets her
Marj Hahne is a poet and educator who has performed and taught at over 100 venues around the country, as well as been featured on local radio and television programs. Her poems have been published in Paterson Literary Review, Painted Bride Quarterly, Mad Poets
Review, and Schuylkill Valley Journal of the Arts; and in anthologies such as Bum Rush the Page: A Def Poetry Jam, An Eye For An Eye Makes The Whole World Blind: Poets On 9/11, and Off the Cuffs: Poetry by and about the police. Marj's poems have also appeared in several art exhibits, as well as been incorporated in the work of visual artists and dancers. She has a poetry CD titled notspeak.