Self-Portrait As A Suspicious Person With Soft Lips

My lips are pink, like a piece of meat, I’m smoothing my face with the back of my hand, it’s so smooth it’s actually suspicious.  Not hiding anything, not at all, what if we only know what isn’t hidden?  Not thinking come and get me, there isn’t any point—everybody knows you’re not responsible for what you’re not even aware of, aren’t you?  It’s true we often know more than we’re willing to admit, we know when we would have, there’s no reason to pretend it’s suspicious when it actually is.  When I touch my lips I’m  counting the lines on my lips, letting my lips relax, I think they’re sweeter, and also softer.  Some people are suspicious of softness, but I like to press my lips in order to soften them, rubbing on some colored gloss to remind myself there’s nothing wrong with me.  Bowing my head to look more closely:  I’m often suspicious of my intentions, I mean I don’t intend to, but I don’t intend not to, intention isn’t even an activity.  If it’s not suspicious is it even interesting?  When I feel suspicious I hold myself in, turning to the side until I’m just a sliver like the interior of a silhouette, it’s hardly worth mentioning—sometimes I think this isn’t who I am, as if it’s somebody else who’s suspicious, isn’t it?  When it’s late I turn on the lights like William James to see what the darkness looks like, pulling apart my lips and speaking out of the corner of my mouth, I’m not one of those people who’s looking for a better offer.


Peter Leight lives in Amherst, Massachusetts.  He has previously published poems in Paris Review, AGNI, Antioch Review, Beloit Poetry Journal, FIELD, New World, Raritan, and other magazines. 


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