Natasha Trethewey

8. Disclosure

January 1912

When Bellocq doesn’t like a photograph
he scratches across the plate. But I know
other ways to obscure a face—paint it
with rouge and powder, shades lighter than skin,
don a black velvet mask. I’ve learned to keep
my face behind the camera, my lens aimed
at a dream of my own making. What power
I find in transforming what is real—a room
flushed with light, calculated disarray.
Today I tried to capture a redbird
perched on a tall hedge. As my shutter fell,
he lifted in flight, a vivid blur above
the clutter just beyond the hedge—garbage,
rats licking the insides of broken eggs.