by Amanda Beth Peery
I once had a handheld plastic mirror
that reflected one feature at a time:
the wrist, the blushing shell of an ear or
lips pulled into a grimace or smile.
For a while I gazed into water and ice
to see my vision in ripples and whiteness
from every lake-rimmed forest shore,
I got older, and I wanted more:
a long, thin mirror on the back of my door
mirror-chips glued to the walls and glinting
a clean bathroom mirror divided in four
foldable parts—no, I wanted even more:
mirrors on ceilings and closet doors
and a looking glass showing that other thing
my double with its dark core, rising
and taking its form, in light, of wings.
. . .
"Poetry is also the precise language of getting lost."
. . .
At first everything lived
in the Mirror Kingdom
under the lake: the trees
with wavering trunks stood
sideways, the sides of faces
were permanently switched.
Everything was soft and
magnified. The spaces
between things were known to shift,
and things would shrink and grow:
a root's thin tendril wound in soil
would become in a blink
a dark river of smooth bark.
The animals had ink-
black coats and dreamed loudly
through the night, calling to
the whirling stars crossing close
over ground—in the Mirror
Kingdom, there was no gap
between soil and sky. You could
catch stars in a net like
silver fish, or catch them
in spread fingers and wear them.
They were gloriously bright rings.
Until one day an earthquake
loosened the creatures from
the Kingdom, sucked them out
of the lake. Now they live
tall and solid as statues
prancing oddly on dry land.