I could take a clue from how the mirror itself
is failing, the silver or whatever it was made of
corroded around the edges, so when I look
I could begin to wonder what else has worn away.
I am fooled by living with myself without ceasing,
but I begin to wonder when I meet someone
who has moved away and comes back and I see
how startled he looks, seeing what has happened to me.
I could be struck by how my belabored diaries
have grown to fill a shelf, as if I had begun them
in the old days, when a sheet of polished bronze
or a lazy pond on a bright afternoon was all I had.
I feel the water going faster the more I near the cataract.
I see Narcissus and Nemesis both waving as I go by.


I misread ruse for rose, a trick
not of the eye alone, oracular
as much as ocular,
what with that color
that is not red
but goes by the name
long enough to fool the bee.

Mornings are a blur anyway,
until we’ve had a chance
to watch the light come up
and become ourselves again.
There is also this problem
of speaking, the throat a thing
thickened with consonants
pharyngeal, laryngeal, stuck.

I must begin by drying my eyes
and moistening my throat,
then to attend to the vowels,
try a practice-run or two:

“Raise your heads, each rose,
and rise, turn your ruddy red
toward the rouged rim of sky,
rave and riff on the rising day.”

The sun grows like a blister.
Its bulge will burst and spread
across the air a sheet of light,
heat in wide blinding waves.
We have at most a little time
to consider the rose, its blear
of red, its thorn, the bead
of blood it finds to its liking,
a decided taste for salt and iron,
so it comes back for more.