Self-Portrait at Twenty

I stood inside myself
like a dead tree or a tower.
I pulled the rope
of braided hair
and high above me
a bell of leaves tolled.

Because my hand
stabbed its brother,
I said: Make it stone.

Because my tongue
spoke harshly, I said:
Make it dust.
                   And yet
it was not death, but
her body in its green dress
I longed for. That’s why
I stood for days in the field
until the grass turned black
and the rain came.

Gregory Orr, "Self-Portrait at Twenty" from The Caged Owl: New and Selected Poems. Copyright © 2002 by Gregory Orr. Reprinted by permission of Copper Canyon Press.
Source: The Caged Owl (Copper Canyon Press, 2002)
More Poems by Gregory Orr