i have told myself a thousand lies
about my own face,
my own beard, like a bristlecone pine.
when i was low, i said,
i looked how i felt:
like a monster.
but did you notice how i kept it
when i smiled at you last?
was i a monster then?
this is how i lie
to you and to myself.
the night is kind,
it can reveal the obvious,
and surely you already know
how i love my ugliness and hate
until i confessed myself
and you said—no,
not in that way—
i was naïve, not
because of any surprise, but my face
in the hotel mirror behind you;
because i looked so old
and felt so young,
a mere child hid
in the brambles of a
it would be better not to have a face at all;
let them just imagine me.
i really love it all because i must;
its gnarls threaten fate itself—saying
it will be like this or it will not be,
like so much else;
i hated every hair until the blade,
hated this whole town until i left,
i sang all night until i fell asleep,
dreamed of her until the morning came.
i loved her to my doom until it passed,
died until i was no longer dying,
bearded with a smile on my face,
naked eyed but covering my teeth.