Primordial Mirror

Ama Codjoe

I was newly naked: aware of myself
as a separate self, distinct from dirt and bone.

I had not hands enough,
and so, finally, uncrossed my arms.

In trying to examine one body part,
I’d lose sight of another. I couldn’t

imagine what I looked like during
the fractured angles of sex.

At the river’s edge, it was impossible
to see all of myself at once.

I began to understand nakedness
as a feeling.

It was a snake, loose and green;
it was the snake skin, coiled and discarded.

The shedding chained itself
like a balloon ribboned to a child’s wrist.

Morning’s birdsong reminded me
of the sloughing off of skin.

The rumored beauty of my husband’s first
wife never bothered me before.

I missed the sensation of being fixed
in amber. Then the hair in the comb,

fingernail clippings, the red mole on my
left breast grown suddenly bigger.

I perceived my likeness in everything:
the lines on my palm as the veins

of a leaf, my mind as a swarm of flies
humming over something sugary or dead,

my vulnerability as the buck
I’d kill then wrap myself inside,

my hair as switchgrass, twine, and nest,
a roving cloud my every limb.

Last updated August 19, 2022