Self portrait : diptych


It will do, the Polaroid’s black-
&-white : but a ground of sky-like
azurite with aetatis suae XX lettered

in gold would better suit
this curly-head in starprint shirt,
his life set permanently to May,

cheek burnished smooth, grin still
bright as enamel, straight-ahead gaze
the sign of a body and mind packed

with nerves and nerve, keen to pierce
the blazing thickets of lightbeams
pouring on him from the future.


What fingers have dabbled
under the skin of this face
and loosened it like a glove

pouched at the knuckles?
Render him Holbein-style,
with scraped graphite stubble

and dewlaps crosshatched ; show
the waning of distinctiveness
as the sitter leans into age,

accruing marks and details
on the surface of the vellum, a crop
of scuffs and spatters, all his own.





Steve Xerri has been a teacher, musician, illustrator and web designer. Recently published in Acumen, Clear Poetry, Stride Magazine, Brittle Star, and The Interpreter’s House. Awarded the Canterbury Festival Poet of the Year 2017 prize in October.