By Troy Jollimore
Willem Dafoe walks to the corner bodega
with Willem Dafoe’s face splashed all over
the front part where the face usually goes,
peering through the well-designed eye-holes to scrutinize
the sausagelike faces of his fellow urban adventurers,
the way he does every morning, the way you do
every morning, your face out there like Christmas decorations
for everyone to see, like you don’t give two shits
what they think. After all, you can see their faces too.
Which doesn’t, somehow, make it come out even.
The human face, that encyclopedia
of longing and vulnerability. He nods
to a heavyset man who is stealthily browsing
cans of precooked luncheon meat, who started it
by nodding at him, who has maybe and maybe
not recognized him from Light Sleeper
or The English Patient or (yikes) Speed 2: Cruise
Control, two faces acknowledging each other,
not snarling, not biting, civilization emerging
victorious once again in the canned foods aisle.
Orson Welles, now he had a face.
You’d give your right arm for Orson Welles’s face.
He would have, too. Even at his worst,
rejected by Hollywood, The Magnificent
Ambersons lying in hacked-up pieces
at the bottom of the ocean, he must have been thinking
to himself, at least I’ve still got my beautiful
goddamned face. His face and his voice, two
eternal beauties. But really, what’s worse than
popping the wrong expression into the wrong
conversational slot? Like smiling a goofy fat
smile while your friend describes his sister’s
bone marrow treatments? Moments like that
make you wish you didn’t have a face. Or at least
that you could leave your face at home in a drawer
sometimes, and walk around just being the person
you actually are, like you believed in such
a thing. Like anyone does. But you’d never
let yourself say that, who’d believe it anyway,
coming out of that thing you call a mouth?