How to Make a Portrait

Look in the mirror.

Practice saying you’re beautiful.
You must say this

out loud – you must say this
one thousand times
until your face believes you.

You must say this and see
the glorious and wounded
contours of the human frame,
your broken nose and hooded eyes,

creased skin, your crooked teeth,
you must say this
until your face contains
the tired man beside the road,
the woman in the field,

the boy in the cardboard box,
the girl beneath the hanging tree,
the mother’s calloused hands,
the father’s folded breasts,
the milky stare of old woman, man,
all begging to believe

that no one is invisible, you must say this
until it becomes a chant, a cry, a call, a cheer, a song,
until the willed imagination turns
to face the other faces in the crowd of self
and in that gaze that nods and smiles, the camera
– in the image of us all –
destroys and remakes the world.