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carleen tibbetts


The Face of Garbo

Remainder of an erasure of Roland Barthes’s essays, Mythologies


still that capturing the human face plunged
the deepest ecstasy literally lost in human
a kind of absolute state of the flesh
causing suicides
where the flesh gives
rise to mystical feelings of perdition
indeed an admirable face-object
shown snowy thickness of a mask
surface lineaments once fragile
eyes alone strange soft flesh
tremulous wounds
extreme beauty, this face
ephemeral totem-like
temptation of the absolute
secret archetype
offered gaze
almost sexually undefined
she is always herself
she herself knew this
to be degraded
this deified
looming curve
rare fragile moment
leans mortal
lyricism of Woman
a transition to charm
this evolution for instance peculiar
(woman as child, woman as kitten)
her person unique
an infinite complexity as a language
the face an Idea, an Event




Remainder from erasure of Roland Barthes’s essays, Mythologies


based on a contradiction: Woman is desexualized
therefore spectacle
pretence of fear
a sort of delicious terror
ritual and conjuration
mystifying evil device
plunge it into a permanently immune eroticism
in a reassuring flesh taboo
therefore body of the woman in proportion as
she pretends to strip it bare
legend or romance:
equipped with an undulating vamp
serenades an object in disguise
a natural vesture of woman, which amounts
to state of the flesh
rounded up here, unveiled
force it back into rite:
in short the whole spectrum of adornment
category of magical
woman identifies herself as
as ritualistic
no longer genuine
go on pervading the woman
with even something like
enveloping memory
itself unreal, smooth
a slippery object covered with sequins
a sword of purity
drives woman back onto (precious)
being here the irrefutable symbol
absolute object
that which serves no purpose
contrary, the dance
to end is in no way erotic
quite the reverse:
the last barrier
cosmetic, it hides
smothers under glaze of bare miraculous science
meticulous exorcism (sic)
resorting or resorting very clumsily to magic
here we find at the beginning
disguises denying the woman refuge
imprisoning her in actual fact
one girl is, say, ‘doing well,’
on the arduous path
to rejoin the world
as a household property
magical spectacle




Carleen Tibbetts is the author of the e-chapbook a starving music will come to eat the body (FiveQuarterly, 2014). Her work has appeared in Coconut, H_NGM_N, Sink, Jellyfish, inter|rupture, Dusie, Ilk, Nightblock, Fact-Simile, and other journals.