Sept/Oct 2021 • Vol. XLIII No. 5 PoetrySeptember 9, 2021 |

Face

Facial recognition is encoded, or acquired, from birth. Newborn infants will stare at a face longer than any other pattern. A face may mean mother, milk, or passage. We perceive symmetrical faces as beautiful. A face only a mother could love, then, is either asymmetrical or perfectly symmetrical, and therefore housed in the uncanny valley somewhere between zombie and puppet. Beauty rests on a flaw. A scar, a dominant eye. About half of the fifty states have laws protecting the privacy of your face. One company, Churchix, sells facial recognition software to churches for keeping track of who is attending their services. This is part of an ongoing debate about consumer privacy, itself part of a larger debate about NSA surveillance, which, for some, is also a debate about Big Brother, God, and the limits of power. The soul (in poetry) is sometimes pictured as a bird. One of my favorite photographs was taken by a bird, fitted with a camera by German apothecary Julius Neubronn

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Photo of Beth Bachmann

Beth Bachmann is a 2016 Guggenheim Fellow and author of three books in the Pitt Poetry Series: Temper, winner of the Association of Writers & Writing Program’s Donald Hall Prize for Poetry and Claremont Graduate University’s Kate Tufts Discovery Award; Do Not Rise, winner of the Poetry Society of America’s Alice Fay Di Castagnola Award; and CEASE, winner of the Virginia Quarterly Review’s Emily Clark Balch Prize for Poetry (fall 2018). She lives in New York City.

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