Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsSpring 2016  Vol. 15 No. 1
an online journal of literature and the arts
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The Rebecca Portraits, Paul Strand, 1920–1932

What she wanted most was to be seen.
He leaned her back against a tree.

Hold still, he said, two minutes. Maybe
three. This is what the photos say,

and this. Limits of beauty, tenderness.
Three minutes. Sometimes four.

He laid her out on the lino floor.
What she wanted most was to be

seen. Who would she love, and how
would she know? Silver button,

blinded eye. Idle she is, and so bereft.
The stages of learning are limited

to the practice you invest. Mostly,
she wanted to be seen.

Ruined summer turns to spring.
Read this life backward, please.

Begin with endings, sleeping pills. Colcha
stitch. Her without him. First the pupil,

then the iris painted in. You see the image
from the other side, from across that glass

divide. The photos may be turned more ways
than one. He did intend this loss of ground.

And she was waiting to be seen.  

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