Tricks With Mirrors
It's no coincidence
this is a used
I enter you
and become a mirror.
are the perfect lovers,
that's it, carry me up the stairs
by the edges, don't drop me,
that would be bad luck,
throw me on the bed
reflecting side up,
fall into me,
it will be your own
mouth you hit, firm and glassy,
your own eyes you find you
are up against closed closed
There is more to a mirror
than you looking at
your full-length body
flawless but reversed,
there is more than this dead blue
oblonng eye turned outwards to you.
Think about the frame.
The frame is carved, it is important,
it exists, it does not reflect you,
it does not recede and recede, it has limits
and reflections of its own.
There's a nail in the back
to hang it with; there are several nails,
think about nails,
pay attention to the nail
marks in the wood,
they are important too.
Don't assume it is passive
or easy, this clarity
with which I give you yourself.
Consider what restraint it
takes: breath withheld, no anger
or joy disturbing the surface
of the ice.
You are suspended in me
beautiful and frozen, I
preserve you, in me you are safe.
It is not a trick either,
it is a craft:
mirrors are crafty.
I wanted to stop this,
this life flattened against the wall,
mute and devoid of colour,
built of pure light,
this life of vision only, split
and remote, a lucid impasse.
I confess: this is not a mirror,
it is a door
I am trapped behind.
I wanted you to see me here,
say the releasing word, whatever
that may be, open the wall.
Instead you stand in front of me
combing your hair.
You don't like these metaphors.
Perhaps I am not a mirror.
Perhaps I am a pool.
Think about pools.
i Love is not a profession genteel or otherwise sex is not dentistry the slick filling of aches and cavities you are not my doctor you are not my cure, nobody has that power, you are merely a fellow/traveller. Give up this medical concern, buttoned, attentive, permit yourself anger and permit me mine which needs neither your approval nor your surprise which does not need to be made legal which is not against a disease but against you, which does not need to be understood or washed or cauterized, which needs instead to be said and said. Permit me the present tense. I am not a saint nor a cripple, I am not a wound; now I will see whether I am a coward. I dispose of my good manners, you don't have to kiss my wrists. This is a journey, not a war, there is no outcome, I renounce predictions and aspirins, I resign the future as I would resign an expired passport: picture and signature are gone along with holidays and safe returns. We're stuck here on this side of the border in this country of thumbed streets and stale buildings where ther is nothing spectacular to see and weather is ordinary where love occurs in its pure form only on the cheaper of the souvenirs where we must walk slowly, where we may not get anywhere or anything, where we keep going, fighting our ways, our way not out but through.
Variations on the Word LOVE
This is a word we use to plug
holes with. It's the right size for those warm
blanks in speech, for those red heart-
shaped vacancies on the page that look nothing
like real hearts. Add lace
and you can sell
it. We insert it also in the one empty
space on the printed form
that comes with no instructions. There are whole
magazines with not much in them
but the word love, you can
rub it all over your body and you
can cook with it too. How do we know
it isn't what goes on at the cool
debaucheries of slugs under damp
pieces of cardboard? As for the weed-
seedlings nosing their tough snouts up
among the lettuces, they shout it.
Love! Love! sing the soldiers, raising
their glittering knives in salute.
Then there's the two
of us. This word
is far too short for us, it has only
four letters, too sparse
to fill those deep bare
vacuums between the stars
that press on us with their deafness.
It's not love we don't wish
to fall into, but that fear.
This word is not enough but it will
have to do. It's a single
vowel in this metallic
silence, a mouth that says
O again and agan in wonder
and pain, a breath, a finger-
grip on a cliffside. You can
hold on or let go.
Variations on the Word SLEEP
I would like to watch you sleeping,
which may not happen.
I would like to watch you,
sleeping. I would like to sleep
with you, to enter
your sleep as its smooth dark wave
slides over my head
and walk with you through that lucent
wavering forest of bluegreen leaves
with its watery sun & three moons
towards the cave where you must descend,
towards your worst fear
I would like to give you the silver
branch, the small white flower, the one
word that will protect you
from the grief at the center
of your dream, from the grief
at the center. I would like to follow
you up the long stairway
again & become
the boat that would row you back
carefully, a flame
in two cupped hands
to where your body lies
beside me, and you enter
it as easily as breathing in
I would like to be the air
that inhabits you for a moment
only. I would like to be that unnoticed
& that necessary.