Natasha Trethewey

6. Portrait #2

August 1911

I pose nude for this photograph, awkward,
one arm folded behind my back, the other
limp at my side. Seated, I raise my chin,
my back so straight I imagine the bones
separating in my spine, my neck lengthening
like evening shadow. When I see this plate
I try to recall what I was thinking —
how not to be exposed, though naked, how
to wear skin like a garment, seamless.
Bellocq thinks I’m right for the camera, keeps
coming to my room. These plates are fragile,
he says, showing me how easy it is
to shatter this image of myself, how
a quick scratch carves a scar across my chest.