They speak of us as corruptible.
Mark us as unflattering.
Think of us, idealised.
Blind to the rest.
To the heart that we carry.
Their eyes are depreciative.
They are masters of distortion.
For one night.
Their soul is a locked gate.
The bathroom shut down.
We have access to one room.
They bathe us in wine and lullabies.
Their tongues err around our bodies.
The effort is lost, unknown.
Money paid well.
It’s not a portrait, it’s a landscape, a mural, stretching infinitely.
They turn the page, twisting the paper in case they liked it.
They infiltrate their narratives.
Ridding them of their voices.
Manifesting them as they see them, experience them.
And what does one learn in one night?
How many words can one speak in one night?
Hope is something they all had.
And then the light came in and they realised
That without them, the room is still dark.
“Self-portrait” by Alice Pike Barney (1857-1931)