Glimpsed from across the living room it seems
a normal portrait of an aging couple,
taken for their church directory,
framed and placed on a built-in shelf beside
a vase of red carnations and baby’s breath.

Up close, though, something’s off. Gone are the seams
on their cheeks and foreheads, yet the skin not supple,
just blank. An airbrushing—designed to free
this likeness from time’s price—has been applied
to strange effect, forging not youth but death.

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This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 42 Number 5, on page 28
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https://newcriterion.com/issues/2024/1/photograph