Around her neck is a two-leveled
cage, and in each she keeps a spare
face. They bounce like popcorn when
she walks or bends down. This doesn’t bother
her in the least. To cage oneself in
is what we all do, she thinks. She doesn’t
know the men and women out there
who blow their faces out of glass—
holding fragile expressions
on the end of a long stick
over fire. Or others who carve
faces with a chainsaw from wood—
there are those with iron faces
that are heated and hammered
on a forge. Still others carve faces
from soap and then spend hours
lathering up, but she likes the worlds
of expression she makes every day—
rabbits who sit at tables, disembodied heads,
masks that can only be worn
by those already wearing masks.
This is the way of things, and
even though she hasn’t graduated
to this level, sooner or later,
it is what’s required of everyone.        



Timothy Kercher now lives in Kyiv, Ukraine after living in the Republic of Georgia for four years, where he has been translating contemporary Georgian poetry. Originally from Colorado, he teaches high school English and is working in his fifth country overseas—Mongolia, Mexico, and Bosnia being the others. His poems and translations have appeared or are forthcoming in a number of recent literary publications, including Crazyhorse, Versal, Poetry International Journal, upstreet, Guernica, The Minnesota Review and others.

I wrote this after attending the New Hampshire Craftsmen's Fair last summer, and had walked through a sculptor's booth where a woman was actually sculpting a head as we looked at her work (consisting of other heads sculpted from clay). I remember thinking that this image of a woman sculptor forming a head in her hands could be a great metaphor for how we present ourselves to others.    



Copyright 2009