1519: If Leonardo

Last week I photographed myself naked with different bags over my head. After dropping a dozen versions in the parking lot, I sipped coffee at the diner window and watched patrons compare them—a way of getting to know myself better through other eyes. No one matched exposed face to exposed body or covered face to covered body. Apparently, many things are plainer than the look on my face.

Then just yesterday, I scattered sheets of laser-cut poetry and watched from my car. The poem's first word was Behold: I'd imagined that capital B's double curve supporting breasts in the eyes of a man holding out a page to a woman he loves. No such luck. But two pre-school kids noticed their shoes were untied. There might be hope for this world after all.

After dark tonight, I'll collect from those asphalt acres the crumpled detritus of my experiments with grit and fine, tangled string in the creases. At home, I'll leave moccasins at the door, oily prints on a mirror. On one thumb, there may be an exclamatory glob of gum, which I should have known going into this would not be mine to chew. But the thought does make me smile.

—Bee Wilder