Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Self Portrait: A New Poem by Eric Nicholson

Self Portrait in Hell

I cannot find myself
in a threatening form with bird’s head. I stand
naked on a beach.

I was of two selves
and met my other self walking
towards me down a familiar street.

Art’s created from heart’s blood.
I paint Self Portrait in Hell,
a blood vessel bursts in my eye.

My relationship with Tulla ends
in violence and I lose a finger
joint from my left hand.

I do not know which to prefer,
the truth and anguish of art,
or the anguish of each day.

I’m sitting by a window,
my disfigured ‘hand of destiny’
clearly framed.

Another portrait in another room,
the space behind me shining through
my physical body.
Eyes of fire glow in the window pane.

I smell the resin
from the tall pines in the forests
of my childhood.

Each moment the door shuts.

I carefully measure the slow decline
into infirmity and old age.
I’m staying at Asgardstrand Hotel.

I walk with my hazel stick among
the violets and primroses in the perfumed
brilliance of spring.

The sunshine glances
off the south face
of Hardangerfjord. My mountain of mankind
rumbles in the distance.

Now the waterfall’s rushing
in my ears.

Bio: Eric Nicholson is now retired. He worked as an ESOL teacher and in other fields of education. Now in his retirement he enjoys countryside conservation, writing and walking. His work has previously been published in www.neutronsprotons.com,www.literaryorphans.org and www.emptysink.com. He blogs on http://www.erikleo.wordpress.com

More of Eric’s work is forthcoming in Long Exposure, Issue 1.

Image: Self Portrait in Hell by Edvard Munch, oil on canvas, 1903. Property of the Munch Museum, Oslo, Norway.

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