Hours I’ve spent in river-smelling bathrooms,
panning the glass for a hint of gold. Hating
what was only light. Even my cat, when held
to a mirror, knows that he isn’t in it, will pour
nonplussed from my arms. It was harder for me
to understand: the woman was representative.
Not the sister, the poet. Not the lover of board-
games. Hikes in the Peaks. Just the shadow.
Those hours were a kind of torture. Like salting a cut,
or touching the crater left by a tooth, over and over.
I developed a taste for blood. Then I got tired. Look,
it’s like this: I could see the old mattress, the frizz
of stuffing. Or I could see the bed. My dreams live
there, my lover would if he could. It takes practice.
There are days I remember: the currency of traitors
is silver as a mirrorback. Other days, I’d give all I love
for the shock of finding beauty at last. The librarian
in the movie who takes down her hair, wears a new
dress, and contact lenses: There you were, hiding all
along! You dumb bunny; you sleeved and lovely dove.