Cara: A Portrait.

*


I carry in my face the same disquiet as my grandmother.
The same clenched tension in the jaw,
teeth pressed together like they’re moulding
indents in clay-

When I took this photograph, I felt like I was smiling. I was calm, content, felt softly sparked throughout: I guess my head is as a bulb with a burnt filament, to, I believe, not show any of this.

*

I made peace with my nose on my 18th birthday, when I took a picture of my grandfather and myself and noticed the striking similarity in our facial proportions.
Since then, I have been vehement in defence of it, butting heads with the same old tired, uninspired remarks about its shape and size that I have had since primary school- it wasn’t even that big then. I venerate all it can do- I say, “It is my granddad’s nose.”, and that’s all I need.

*

A number of years ago, I heard, on a make-up advert, of all things, that ‘your skin is a mosaic of all that have come before’, and I thought it was the most beautiful thing of its kind I’d ever heard. The complexity and poetry of it: it really changed how I saw myself.
My body is generations of people smashed together, a product both chaotic and artful. I really feel this- I am weighted rich with inheritance, both blessed and burdened.

*

My father has heavy, sleepy eyes. They look both swollen and dry; whenever I see mine, I see his. We’re both full of feelings unexpressed, like cliffs, eroded and rained on. I guess we elemental zodiac twins are destined to carry water within us, its symbolism, and all its moods and forms.

*

We share a crooked mouth, my aunt, father and I; lips full, and angular, but parched, in a way. It’s a shame that what quenches us will never come from within our family- “We are one, but we’re not the same.”….

*

In all of this, my mother. A multi-dimensional billboard that shows a different image from every angle, her features flicker through mine. I have always loved her hands, how dextrous and lyrically they move. We are both hypermobile.

*

This is me at thirty. I am glad to say that some qualities don’t fall too far, but, primordially, I know that our bonds are labyrinthine, and will forever remain so.

*

cara- ‘face’ in Spanish

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