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Facially Neutral

Engram Wilkinson

Not as the other guests do it: dimples
knocking each eye forward, capable
postures. Each smile is the result of
being supervised. In the photograph
I see a few fingertips, my own head
rolling away from the passersby who
notice I must laugh in order to smile.
Is it still so obvious what I forgot back
there, what happened along the pond’s
margin, if it can be said that, anywhere
else, light diffuses evenly across any
body enjoined by the hands it, as they’re
doing it, conceals. Every description
is directive: Notice. Please. Do. I feel
now I’ve been digested by a reclusive
miracle but the placard only explains
we should walk across the gallery. After
mimesis but sometime before the old-
fashioneds, the plate of macarons I ate
standing, I thought you would let each
gesture stay in place but it has never
been that easy. I taped my mouth shut
to stop apologizing, and still each kiss
remains a rapprochement of typical
empathies. When I started law school
everyone warned me Con Law would
be my hardest class, but those cases
are what my professor calls the “law of
the land.” As I do it, reading resembles
shame, but by contrast the field of tort
law is vibrant, with conflictual notions
across jurisdictions of who can recover
for what kinds of loss. A friend leads
you into the only open exhibit: Louise
Bourgeois’ Spiders. Bourgeois created
the first of her darkly compelling sculptures
in the mid-1990s, when she was in her
They are inside the biography,
or the biography is my home, which is
only to say there is a certain bilateralism
that’s formed between the knuckles
I’ve let my discounted hand soap crack
and the voices gusseting this conceit
which, let’s face it, was never exactly
interested in the first years or our hands,
but that one’s spinneret? There is no
waiting for tomorrow to study the face’s
agenda. I want to show you which question
I let emulsify in the pooling light but you
are looking up. I opened my jacket’s
pocket to put away my glasses and
found another monument built, this
time, without the surprise’s materials.
Forgive each pause for crispening. An
adjacent moment broadens my shoulders.
Come over. A napkin dabs over the old
dispositions. I will never wear them again.

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