The Inflectionist Review #8

Page 79

Shannon K. Winston In Which Self-Portraits Are Also About Others, or Ilse Bing’s Musings with Her Leica Camera


Ilse Bing, Self-Portrait in Mirrors, photograph,1931

Impossible. How can we ever fit

all the pieces of ourselves

into the same picture if we

are nothing but reflections that

stumble forth, awkward and unsure? We

leave only the smallest traces,

like the way light filters through

escape routes

through our bodies—

veins, tiny inlets

like everyday miracles

trembling before us

let’s zoom in.

Let’s see the yet unseen.

Let’s be the projector and the screen.

Be the camera and the eye.

Can we see ourselves

better now?

in the center of this photograph

I sit with

one eye pressed into the lens

a telephone receiver

one eye gazing sidelong

the mirror in the foreground

captures it all

reflects our image back to us

—heart, scar

love, loss—

against the static of the dial tone

in the crossings of glass, metal, flesh.

in these passageways

angels brush up against us

we try to make ourselves whole

again and again

stronger as before

only stranger. Other.