Self Portrait – by Bartholomew Barker

A derelict cabin in the woods
yellow linoleum curls in the kitchen
strategic pans hold leaking rain
but behind the pile of moldy clothes
a spiral staircase

Down like a drill into the earth
to a room with piles upon piles
of books— hardcover and paperback
bright new and faded old
smelling of dust and drought

Down again to an arcane museum
with walls of unlabeled paintings
tables topped by collected curiosities
a busted harmonica— strange coins
holy passports— rocks and stones

Down again to where tree roots
barked like branches to be climbed
twist along rivers with sandy banks
of rocks smooth flat and perfect
warm as summer in childhood

Down again to an open field
under a night sky with a leather chair
and writing desk beside a fireplace
and on the mantle— lit by candles
the portrait of a woman

Closest to the sun
at the center of the world

Bartholomew BarkerBartholomew Barker is an organizer of Living Poetry, a collection of poets in North Carolina. Born and raised in Ohio, studied in Chicago, he worked in Connecticut for nearly twenty years before moving to Hillsborough where he makes money as a computer programmer to fund his poetry habit.