Natasha Trethewey

5. Portrait #1

July 1911

Here, I am to look casual, even
frowsy, though still queen of my boudoir.
A moment caught as if by accident —
pictures crooked on the walls, newspaper
sprawled on the dresser, a bit of pale silk
spilling from a drawer, and my slip pulled
below my white shoulders, décolleté,
black stockings, legs crossed easy as a man’s.
All of it contrived except for the way
the flowered walls dominate the backdrop
and close in on me as I pose, my hand
at rest on my knee, a single finger
raised, arching toward the camera — a gesture
before speech, before the first word comes out.