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Gift, The
Rebecca Seiferle
Size: 7in. w x 13in. h
Edition: 300
Hand Printed By: Sam Hamill, Daniel Urban / 2001
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Gift, The
Rebecca Seiferle

I was wrong when I compared the mask of my own face
to an artifact, some kind of relic, or the shed skin of a snake.
That day, there was no wounding. At the museum,
that morning, when the woman was teaching
the children how to make masks of their own faces
for instant casts, I was glad to lather
my daughters’ faces with lotion, to place the wet strips
on their faces, and later to feel on my own face,
the patting of their hands like the beating of eyelashes against
my cheeks. The fine grit of dissolved earth floating
on my skin was pleasant, cool, and, afterward, choosing
the colors to paint the mask was like selecting one’s own
plumage: Ann's singular purple, Maria's
black-and-white splashed with orange, my turquoise.
When I was holding the shape of my own face in my hand,
it was nothing like a death mask. I saw how easy it was
to put the self aside and pick it up again. It wasn’t the sacrificial mask
I’d seen in Mexico--a human skull inlaid with lapis lazuli, a merciless reduction--
but a moment of happiness, a fragile shell, the gift
of mother and daughters, when, laughing,
we shaped one other into being
by touching what we were.

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