Self-Portrait in the Nude

Allison Funk

To understand what it would be like
          to remove my clothes
as painters do in portraits of themselves

          I imagine I’m the woman
who knows her body
          no longer belongs to the young artist

who painted herself before she had children,
          before her topography was changed
by forces erosive as water and wind,

          and yet she goes on painting it,
the girdle of her earth that is now an etched terrain
          crossed with silver rivulets.

And hills, I want to say to her.
          Valleys. Then hummocks,
hot springs, hoodoo. What is art about

          if not depression? Uplift? Depression
again?
At which she straightens
          the flesh of her shoulders and neck

to face me before I disappear
          into landscape,
my favorite state of undress.