the picture of beauty, or The Mere Object

when i was young, my mother kept a picture of a beautiful woman hung up on the wall above the bed. it was just a decoration to her, something pretty. but to me it was a window into a dream. i asked her, Who is that lady, and she said, She's nobody sweet baby girl, just a beautiful picture, isn't it lovely? she said It, i remember that. She, It, the woman on the wall, white and thin and pleased with her power. She looked like she lived in the sky.

i grew up staring at Her thoughtlessly, just taking Her in, as i lay on the dirty carpet and watched the dust rise up as i rolled in the sun coming through the window. i was alone most of the time back then, but somehow it felt like She was alone with me. She melted into my thoughts, when i looked in the mirror and saw Her on the wall opposite and myself reflected back. it was as if She said, See me, see me, see me, see me, until She filled the frame, until there was no room left for my dark and ugly face.

i grew to hate myself, and it took me a long time to see how that related to being seen.

now that i'm older, older than Her, older than my mother when she died, i think back on them with sadness. my mother, blanker than canvas, failed to make anything beautiful in her entire life, herself and myself included. and She, or It, or she, or it, The Mere Object, nearly degraded me to its level. objects can be beautiful; many are created by mankind--and mankind alone--for that purpose. but i am not an object, i was not then, i never will be, and i forever reject the obscuring veneer of beauty.

1 comment:

  1. I like this quite a lot. It makes me sad but in a revitalizing kind of way. Like breathing out after holding your breath for too long.