- Vol. 05
- Chapter 08
I listen attentively as the artist explains what she will do, what she expects of me, the materials, the safeguards. I calculate the length of time that I will need to hold each pose. I assent, sign papers.
We rehearse the position, my head tilted at an angle, my back arched, one hand raised in false modesty to my chest. Lights swivels toward me. I feel their heat on my skin.
This is not the first time I have posed nude.
I undress behind a curtain, wrap myself in a large yellow towel. The photographer is ready. I am ready. An assistant helps me step into a shallow porcelain basin as wide as a small Jacuzzi.
“Be sure to close your eyes, and keep them closed,” he says as he takes my yellow towel.
I assume the pose and close my eyes, careful not to squeeze them shut. I draw a deep breath and hold it as the liquid bronze pours from above, slowly cascading over me.
It runs, drips, and thickens into pear-shaped tears that hang in pregnant suspense from lips, nipples and fingertips. A new topography of rivulets, valleys, and hidden crevasses emerge in a caramel landscape that I can only imagine behind heavy, painted eyelids and lashes.
My breathing slows and becomes shallow. Only the liquid bronze gives the impression of life as it glides down my arms, my belly, my legs, like a thousand caresses.
There are worse fates. Like Dorian Gray, I will never grow old or infirm. Whatever my imperfections—patchy dry spots, splotchy skin, stretch marks—they lie hidden beneath this new surface.
Sealed in this second skin, bronzed like a Greek statue, I am touched everywhere at once. The odd weight of my carapace embraces my body, infusing me with an internal warmth and calm.
From out there comes the artificial sound of a shutter opening and closing in rapid succession as the artist takes the shots. I hear her instruct her assistants. I sense the rush of movement and the passing of time spin around me. I, the only fixed object in the finite universe of this studio. I am serenity itself. The world bends around me, but cannot touch me, for I am cosseted behind this exoskeleton, this second skin grafted to my own flesh. So close the mimicry, it robs me of my own being.
The photographer takes her shots of lights and shadows on a bronze statue.
I hear satisfaction in her voice. The heady frenzy that buzzed around me exhausts itself and drifts away.
I wait, listen, and wonder. Have they already forgotten me?