self-portrait in ink

When first afflicted with Loneliness,
I found myself wondering in a spot of spilled ink
that looked like me.
I asked this self, “Where are the words?”
and he looked at me and smiled.

I did not understand. “Why do you smile?” I asked.
I was questioning, confused,
my thoughts had brought me to where sunlit mist
rising from the water hid the hills, where
poetry was an empty page.

“Where are your words?”

My smiling silent self and I
gazed into silence
and each other for answers.
My self soon began to speak with me.

He told me about my childhood, my future,
about love fit to burst into the aftermath of a bomb.
My self smiled throughout our conversation,
speaking not a word,
stubbornly caught in a spot of ink.

And so I sat there, speaking to my self,
asking questions I could never ask myself.

I found a friend,
the universe unspooled
from my fingertips.

When first treated to Loneliness,
I found myself, wondering in a beautiful spot of ink.
I asked this self, “Where have you been all this while?”
and he looked at me and smiled.



  • The picture was taken on an early morning spent at the Connecticut River.
  • Lines 8-9 refer to the last line of Fisherman, a poem by Ou Yang Hsiu (1007-1072), translated from the Chinese by Kenneth Rexroth. “And the mist rising from the water has hidden the hills.” This line was also used as the title of a collection of photographs posted on February 26, 2017.

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