The Painting of Me

Illustrated by Emily Cai

I wish to be painted, but my hands will not allow it.

I wish to trace the sharpness of my nose, the curl of my lips,
and my deep brown eyes.

But if my hands remain still,

becomes a tablet of disarray;

once full of vibrant color,

now a shadow of gray.

You choose not to paint me

because your hands do not know 

the trace of my skin

and the lightness of my hair.

The silhouette of my body,

from the edge of my cheekbones to the shape of my hips,

goes unrecognized and this outline

dissipates into an unmarked canvas.

I can feel the painting’s loneliness,

and despite the comfort of calloused hands

this canvas remains empty and without warmth. 

It is barely an imitation of my presence and 

the touch of your life 

is no longer reflective of mine.

The beauteous abstract qualities of your work,

once instinctual

become a struggle between

a chest on fire and a mind in distress.

Nothing is left

but the traces of an unknown body.

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