painting by pablo picasso
Re * flec * tion
“There are two ways of spreading light--
to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.”
Our first mirrors were polished obsidian,
then polished copper or bronze, but
it wasn’t until after the death of Christ
that we began to refine the quality
of our reflections, when metal-coated
glass mirrors, backed with mercury,
began to show up in Lebanon--and of course
the Romans took them home immediately.
The more modern silver backed mirrors
were developed in Germany in 1835, where
they learned to apply the reflective coatings
onto the back of the glass.
In the cities we are virtually surrounded by
reflective glass, so whether walking or driving
we habitually, often surreptitiously, glance
at our image in motion.
“It is the city of mirrors,
the city of mirages;
at once solid & liquid,
at once air & stone.”
Ever watch a parakeet being fascinated
by the “pretty girl” in the glass,
or a dalmatian sitting patiently by the hour
staring into a wall mirror, waiting
for the spots to move?
I have a four-way folding mirror
in my bathroom, and I love to fold it
so that I can view both profiles,
or the back of my head.
We all aspire to be magicians who can
manipulate the smoke & position the mirrors,
trying hard not to fall into any of them--
we all know what happened to Alice
and Timothy Leary, and certainly we all have
faced those funhouse image mornings when
our distorted features looked like Dali paintings.
“Life is for each man a solitary cell whose
walls are mirrors.”--Eugene O’Neill.
Sometimes in my daydreams I am that guy
with mirrors pasted to the tops of his shoes
standing very near the young women in their
billowing Summer dresses.
Has it ever occurred to you
that several of your mirrors have seen
you naked many more times
than your lover or spouse?
How many possible paramours have you
passed up after you realized
they wore mirrors on their foreheads,
reflecting back to you
who you thought you were?
I have always been fascinated
by those abstract paintings depicting
someone holding a mirror up to a mirror,
and the reflected repeated images
line up, bouncing back & forth,
each time diminishing in size
until it becomes microscopic.
I think of life that way,
and life between lives,
where God, or Dagwood Bumstead,
or Cosmo Kramer holds
in His trillion hands
multiple infinite mirrors,
filling our skies
with reflected images
of extinct galaxies,
and our mortal hearts
with delicious dreams
of a Continuum.
Posted over on Poetry Jam
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