Published on Academy of American Poets (

Self-Portrait in the Nude

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
At which she straightens
          the flesh of her shoulders and neck

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


Copyright © 2018 Allison Funk. This poem originally appeared in The Cincinnati Review, Summer 2018. Used with permission of the author.


Allison Funk

Allison Funk was educated at Ohio Wesleyan University and Columbia University. She is the author of five books of poems: Wonder Rooms (Parlor Press, 2015); The Tumbling Box (C&R Press, 2009); The Knot Garden (Sheep Meadow Press, 2002); Living at the Epicenter (Northeastern University Press, 1995), selected by Sonia Sanchez as the winner of the 1994 Samuel French Morse Poetry Prize and a winner of the Society of Midland Authors Award; and Forms of Conversion (Alice James Books, 1986).

Funk has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts, as well as prizes from the Illinois Arts Council and the Poetry Society of America. She is currently a poet and professor emerita at Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville.

Date Published: 2018-11-12

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