Organs Of Donation

Entry by: David Ades

19th December 2014
The Stranger’s Face I Wear


I try not to think of the acid,
of my skin sloughing off,
of the pain, the disfigurement.

I try not to think of the shame,
the hideous ruin of my life,
of how I hid myself from the world,

from myself, of the unbearable
judgment of mirrors.
I try to quell each unspoken thought,

to efface myself even more,
to hide behind my tearless eyes
that wish only to cry.

I cannot come to terms
with who I no longer am,
with whom I have become,

my unlived life that’s over
though I still live.
So how can I chance one look —

after all the operations
and the pain, over and again,
after the swelling and the gauze —

at the stranger’s face I wear,
at everything it implies:
another’s loss greater than my own?


I thought I knew myself, my place,
as daughter, wife, mother,
each story etched on my face,

and did, until the night all certainties
melted away, revealed as wisps
of smoke, mere parodies.

I lost myself that night,
not just appearance, my essence
ghostly in the dimming light.

I have to learn to live again,
as someone else, the damaged self
that isn’t friend,

and then learn how to bear
another self, the one
whose face I’ve come to wear,

reclaim this one and only life
and take it for us both,
redemption for my woe and strife.

I look, at last, at my reflection,
attempt a little twitch of smile,
a breaching whit of affection.