The Voyeur
Jessica Baran

She doesn’t gaze at her subjects, she induces them to gaze at her; she selects them for their confidence, their potential to become under-stuffed. Not for what she is but for her regular feat of vanishing, I know her: the cut-and-glued life-size mockup, the unpeopled place, the pellucid mirror that parses interior. It is hard to be good when there are so many fabulous faces to admire, such a menagerie of loss. Fabulously, they enact familiar bedroom dramas, the kind scratched in crayon and littered with the terribly usual, hand-picked and perishable—a bowl of fruit, a crate of disposable diapers, a headless crucifix with pearls of water pouring from the nipples. I look, and the paunchy self-as-clown holds balloons. I urinate in suggestive arcs, brandish severed heads on pikes, or am broken into parts and stacked—a painted and compiled lost tribe. Everywhere: the smoothed ridges of the brow, the rough dabs that dimple the spine, the cupped back of the knee, the gestural marks. And here: up the well-worn stairs, the low-lit guest-room, the whole lived whorl beneath blades of a ceiling fan. Strangely, I never see you there.