blackbirdonline journalSpring 2009  Vol. 8  No. 1
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The Mirror’s Lake Is Forever

That’s when I knew the mirror was all sex and hard
fact. Unlike knowing my grandfather

posthumously. Because a ghost can’t be
androgynous as a lamp is,

as peat moss is,
as the smell of cedar—

knife-feathery. Because the dead
can watch me pee without

even a trace of embarrassment. And who
has the right to more? Mirror

that couldn’t reach my dead
grandfather’s closet—his jewel-colored

medical books in former editions,
his gay porn magazines: men smooth

as conchs in softcore seascapes. My mother,
who found them while cleaning

out his house, asks, Are you sorry
I told you? I said, No,

I’m not sorry. As if staring
into his horn-rims and my grandmother’s

coral dress could help me understand
the selfishness of portraits—

their shut door splintering the past’s
exact coffin-space.

I know that shame
is beard-high with two daughters—the blonde

one with cats and the dark one with red-
haired girls. I know

the mirror’s lake is forever
dragged for corpses, lily-buoyant

arteries, livers, and cocks. I know
he’s caught there: doctor,

with his white coat, and gold-veined
tobacco. And what is more haunted

than the smoked voices
of cicadas under plums? And what

heats faster than silver? His constellation:
cold instruments raised

over useless space. Somewhere
there’s a ghost

I’ll open my shirt for, recount my
Entire Medical History for,

who I’ll forgive for wearing
tweed and love beads and for hiding

stacks of magazines in the dark, who will press
that silver scope to his ear, who will listen.  end

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