Work in Progress (The Face of Roman Opalka)

“… what I call my self-portrait is made of thousands of working days. Each one corresponds to a number and to a precise moment in which I stopped painting. ”
Roman Opalka


It says here
(in this unknown thing
I am referencing)
that Mister Opalka
took the same photograph
of himself, his face
each year for forty years.

He did many other things also
in the artist line of work.
If one searches in the tunnels
of a man’s life randomly filled
by the robot engines
one can find all manner
of paint and penciling.

Interspersed throughout
is him looking back at you
through the same eyes set
to different depths
in an aging face
quiet and kindly
and quizzical and blank.

He doesn’t appear
to have put on or lost
any significant weight
over the years.
It is an awful pity
this was the first consideration
that came to mind.

In mitigation
the art of another’s face
is arresting
and as he continues to look
over the passing time at me
I wish only I knew more
than the so very little I do.