Terrible Emmanuel’s Likeness
Terrible Emmanuel etches his likeness in stone. He is capable of much more but the cold tool presses his hand in the right way. His features are familiar and crude and the stone powders his face when he blows the crevices clean. A crack slips away and extends the mouth. Emmanuel could seal it but lets it go. This stone can’t talk but it’s telling him there’s a crack in his likeness. He proceeds to the eyes and wonders what the stone will tell him. The stone tells him eyes are curved and reflective but it won’t tell if they see. And if they see it won’t tell what they see. He chisels the brow to see what the stone will tell him. The stone tells him mind is a suggestion, a mere bump in the world. Emmanuel grips the tool. He could go deeper, transcend likeness. There are so many choices, so many ways the stone could be made to speak. Emmanuel lets the tool drop from his hand. It dances clinking in the dirt. He will not brush the powder from his face. Let the stone remain a stone.
Chris Haven is working on a series about Terrible Emmanuel, a cranky, fallible figure who considers himself to be the supreme being. Other Emmanuel poems appear in The Literary Review, failbetter, and Seneca Review, where they won the Deborah Tall Lyric Essay Prize. He teaches at Grand Valley State University in Michigan.