How to Use an X-ray on Artemisia Gentileschi’s Susanna and the Elders | Robin Cedar

1. Patience. See the girl – hands slightly extended in protest, face turned away. Note the distress.
2. Flash her beneath the x-ray. Don’t let her be shy. Expose her.
3. See clearly the painted-over phantom of the girl beneath – head thrown back as her hair is pulled.
4. Observe the way her hand grips the hidden knife.
5. Commit in full to the act of seeing her: hand uplifted to fight, mouth open in her agony.
6. Remark on how her shadowed self moves more. Remark on how her outward shell intends less.
7. Marvel at how she appears rich colors. How underneath, she is stark and ghosted.
8. She gives herself away in contrast to everything else. Tell her to act like everything else.
9. Think on how you could not know her without this. Or don’t.
10. Realize, as you stare at the two-headed, screaming beast, that the x-ray is still on. Turn it off.
Robin Cedar is a current MFA candidate at Oregon State University, where she studies poetry and teaches English composition. Her poems have appeared in Lumen, Wildness, Urban Sasquatch and forthcoming in The Lamp andMosaic. She is originally from Whidbey Island and has a grand love of fish and whales.

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