And Your Face, in the Mirror?

This is a poem structure of Louise Gluck’s, I copied the italics and answered the questions my way, and in this new draft, I am contrasting my old perspective when I wrote this with my perspective now. It has changed drastically-since the first draft of this poem two years ago. You can read the first, old draft here, from when I was in that dark space. Now for the new one:

 

“Are you healed or do you only think you’re healed?”

I told myself it is

terrible and beautiful

to survive.

Believing it might make me so,

with whatever limitations I

guided myself by.

 

 

“But can you love anyone yet?”

I slipped across mirrors,

always mirrors.

I was only yet learning

my reflection, a face

I didn’t know.

 

 

“But will you touch anyone?”

 

I told myself

if I have nothing,

that’s what comes back.

I touched my body

in the mirror,

examined its rounds

and edges, the skin

an …other.

 

 

“And your face too? Your face in the mirror?”

It felt like I was

gloved; and hands

that cannot feel

numb for an eternal sting

of some kind–I was

a shape of silent centers.

And the face-I couldn’t see it.

 

 

“Were you safe then?”

I still whisper to myself,

thirty years later

“You are safe, you are safe”

in my quiet rooms when my

body has memories.

 

 

“So you couldn’t protect yourself?”

Ah, but I did. Fighting was not an option,

not for my child’s mind,

but hiding within it was.

But I got lost in all

that tender gray matter,

and to lose a girl

I hated

now makes me

love her.

 

 

“But do you think you’re free?”

I think I knew what I was.

Fragments of her–the light

play of a prism on a bare wall–

trapped, shaking naked but glinting

an illusion of color.

 

 

“But do you think you’re free?”

 

Everything has a price.

Everything has a price.

I once thought fighting myself

in those recesses was more free

than what I had become.

A newness is evolving,

I change into something new,

something strange. I conjure

up new meanings

to your words

free

and

love

and I am finding that the design

of this woman

I have blueprinted

is taking space

in the mirrors.

This is free, for someone like me.

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4 thoughts on “And Your Face, in the Mirror?

  1. My dear, what a triumph of writing but also of mental health. This was so brave and beautiful. The trip to finding who you are is sometimes arduous, but once you find who you really are (not the person who the world say you are), it’s easier to love and accept. At least, i hope it is for you. Big hugs, Buddah M

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You nailed the cadences and angles of Gluck in the first poem — a sort of razored-down Rilke — a sharp mentor off the shelf for naming damage, of holding it at arm’s length to examine, like ravaged doll. The second poem takes “the shape of silent centers” and wears it like a glove; it’s the difference between nightmare and dream, falling and flying, or, as they say in AA, humiliation and humility. Funny I’d be re-reading Gluck’s “Faithful and Virtuous Night” when I come back here to read this poem.

    Liked by 1 person

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