Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Re * flec * tion



painting by pablo picasso


Re * flec * tion

“There are two ways of spreading light--
to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.”
--Edith Wharton.


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.”
--Erica Jong

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. 


Glenn Buttkus

Posted over on Poetry Jam

Would you like to hear the author read this poem to you?

11 comments:

Mary said...

Very interesting reflection on mirrors, Glenn. (Smiles) So true about the mirrors that have seen a person naked. Thankfully, the mirrors don't judge by looks. They are always glad to see a person next time. Holding a mirror to a mirror would make me dizzy, even dizzier than usual. Enjoyed your Poetry Jam contribution, Glenn.

Björn said...

Oh this was a great write Glenn. Love your thoughts here... the mirrors that surround us today... constantly and forever..

alan1704 said...

This is mind bending and full of rich images. Sky, earth all the elements play their part. A real drama that unfolds.

Brian Miller said...

ha on the mirrors seeing us naked more than our spouse....maybe so...i am working hard not to let that be a reality though...ha...and true ont eh manipulating the smoke and mirrors...

Gabriella said...

I enjoyed reading your varied perspectives on mirrors and also smiled on what you wrote on the mirror having seen us naked more than our lovers or spouse.

Peggy said...

I enjoyed reading your reflections on mirrors and their various roles in life. As modern people we are probably somewhat privileged to know what we look like via photos and mirrors--or maybe not so lucky, LOL

Sumana Roy said...


great write up......enjoyed all the lines......

artbyrae said...

What mirrors see...yes I am thinking they remove all clothing often lol maybe that keeps us all headed out for regular exercise

Vandana Sharma said...

This whole world is reflection of souls.

Victoria said...

I love the diverse images Glenn, and the quotes. I'd heard the Milay and treasure it, and am surprised I didn't know the O'neil. This poem I will read over when it is earlier and I am more awake. You say much here.

Robyn Greenhouse said...

I position the mirror this way and that and then dim the lights if all those adjustments don't work out!