Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Posing Naked: a poem


Posing naked--
how can that be?
Strange bedfellowed
odd-coupled words--
posing naked.

Isn't posing:
putting on airs?
assuming a role?
pretending to be something you are not?
Try pretending that you're naked!
Try pretending that you're not
when you are!

Isn't naked open,
honest, nothing hidden?
We say "naked truth,"
and truth is naked,
naked and beautiful,
open and revealed.

Posing is artifice,
naked is nature.
Posing acts a part,
hiding the real as it acts;
what is there of revelation
in posing?

And yet
I pose naked.
I strip my body
to reveal more than body,
I "pose"--is there another word?
I act, holding an imaginary bow,
rowing a non-existent gondola,
bearing a slender stick
as if it were a cross.

They look at me intently,
walk closer from time to time,
frowning when the contour of an arm
will not work on the paper.
Sometimes they touch
skin muscle bone.
How can they fit together?

Sometimes we speak
naturally enough
of things the altogether clad
might share
in clothed communion.

Contradicting the contradiction
I pose naked.
And the posing becomes real
by honest artifice.
Charcoal and paint
paper and pastel
there I am, refracted by air
reflected through eye and brain
onto a surface no longer just surface,
no longer flat, no longer dead.

I have posed naked,
and while I, naked,
may not be beautiful,
yet through my posing
the naked truth
in all its beauty
is revealed.

     This is one of the earliest poems I composed after I started modeling in the fall of 1990.  The illustrations span a number of years.  The first and third are from Jim Rosen's class in the Spring of 1991 at Augusta College.  The last is from Philadelphia, a favorite pose I think of as Charon, the ferryman on the River Styx, roughly drawn from his depiction in Michaelangelo's Last Judgment.  The second is a painting from UNC-Greensboro, another favorite pose that is reclining, but with action of the arms and hands not usually seen in a reclining pose.  If there is an inspiration for this one, it might be the famous photo of the Marines raising the flag on Iwo Jima.

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