A DEATH MASK IS A WAY TO PERPETUATE THE TRANSITORY
Body rendered still; empty as kindling, dry as gravel.
If by body we mean a record of events, a past growing
Stand far enough away, & categories are all that matter: blue-brown
Try not to breathe as you think of the lack of breathing.
Imagination of need becoming need. Becoming
The way the physical world seeds memory—first few notes
If by body, here, we mean space compressed, a shift in light.
The difference between knowing & believing. An act
Where shadows insist no, this face, these eyes, this mouth.
This poem is part of an extended project tentatively titled The Most Kissed Face in the World, about an unidentified girl who drowned herself in the Seine in the 1880s. A coronor took an unauthorized death mask before burying her, and unexpectedly it became something of a sensation across the continent for the early part of the 20th century, culminating in its being selected as the face for the Rescue Annie CPR training dummies in the 1960s. The project is part narrative, part lyric, part autobiography, part imaginative essay, and as yet unfinished.