INSTRUCTIONS TO A PORTRAITIST

Spring 2007: Issue 81

Jennifer Militello

Add to me a mechanical voice, the smell

of the heavens because they smell of the earth,

and what would hydrogen-react with past forms of us

 

falling. Add to me the removal: let the blood

that follows bead. Look half at me, half at

the long grass color the sky is beginning to have,

 

beauty’s poisonous reptile sleeping in your hand.

If I wear a gemstone, make its thousands laugh.

Don’t think. You must reshape me as the fabrics

 

grow weak. Otherwise, I come out colorless

and afraid. Add to me a long stretch of wetlands

and the dying off of birds. Invent me teeth to

 

bite with, scars to leave, the places you would maim

already in my eyes as atmospheres the edges

whisper, profiles I have let swan, all the children

 

you will later be made to believe in,

their lineless fists and brows of silver lakeness.

The gunshot, the cricket song, irises of steam.