Primordial Mirror

By 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.

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