Portrait with Thistle – #9

June 20

1. I looked at the photograph in the book I made with Steve in my twenties.

2. I had made it with Steve – a book of photographs we took of each other when we were young. We took them in Milwaukee in abandoned buildings, alleys, on the railroad tracks. The one I pointed out was taken on a metal staircase.

3. I watched while you flipped through the book of photographs . I stopped you at one of them and said – that’s me when my hair was still dark. And you said – I know.

4. I pointed out the photograph of me on the stairs, seen from above. I said – that’s a thistle in my mouth. And you said – I know.

5. In the photograph I’m looking down, my hair pulled back in a bun, no bangs. My hair is dark. I look soft, contemplative, focused on a thought. My hands are together, tucked between my thighs, my arms almost straight but relaxed, sleeves rolled up. It was summer. You could think I was caught unaware except there’s a thistle in my mouth.

6. I remember the way the thistle felt in my mouth when I look at the photograph of me on the metal stairs.

7. He took the picture of me with the thistle in my mouth in the morning. I found the plant growing out of the sidewalk up against a fence. I had to twist and slice the stem.

8. It was early when he shot me on the stairs, the thistle in my mouth. We wandered all day after that, taking photographs in erotic, derelict industrial spaces. We found a group of large, curved concrete forms I called cradles and which must have held huge drums of something once. We defeated the fence and I lay in one of them, the darkening city and dead factories behind me and Steve photographed me there until it was night. Then we felt each other up at the base of it while he spent his cigarettes one after another, using the smoke to keep the mosquitoes away.


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