AUTO PORTRAIT

by Alicia Askenase

My father said if you could count the number of friends you had
on one hand,
you were lucky.

Summer I am Mima tapping down the soil
oregano rests in, fronds curling toward the sun,
I tear small petals into feta and chicken and orzo,
eat what I nourish, enter and depart.

Once, I was the only photo of a four-year-old girl with auburn hair,
by the skin of my teeth.

Within her was a painting, a Study for “Ikon of the Modern Age”:
face and neck covered in white stripes,
behind her, black-and-blue
wallpaper. Eye slits, mouth hole, gauzed, dumb.

In name I am Alethea, Greek: truth.
A Latinized Alice, descendent of Irish bards.
For a stretch I was Ms. Alice, then Alice for Governess.
I presided.

Presently I have one wing and the word options pinned to my shirt.

 

*Note: Study for “Ikon of the Modern Age”
John Graham (American, born Ivan Dabrowsky)


Poet and educator Alicia Askenase is the author of four chapbooks, including The Luxury of Pathos and Shirley Shirley. Her poetry appears in the journals Chain, Poetry New York, The World, 6ix, Feminist Studies, and Big Bridge, among others. One of her poems was selected as an Editor’s Choice for the 2018 Sandy Crimmins Prize. Her most recent writing appears in the anthologies New Works by Philadelphia Poets, and Not Our President, as well as Poems for the Writing: Prompts for Poets, Second Edition, ed. Valerie Fox and Lynn Levin, and http://www.themvillereview.com/