from the book Fine Lines by Carol Burnes ©2003
She slips in and out of mirrors,
feels the sleek shine,
the weight of glass,
sees a flash of height, leanness,
a slice of blue eye.
Most days she checks in
just to see who she is;
today a whiz of colour, tomorrow
textured, earth-toned, some days
unmatched like her life.
She sees herself repeated. Ageless.
Aging. Fine lines. Searching her closets
she gathers armloads of who she might be
and in the mirror she strips down
yearning for a new season –
there is no hiding here.
Who am I? For whom do I dress?
She masquerades her options:
I could be… I could be… Couldn’t I?
Where once she saw forever reflected,
now memories web the glass –
she sees endings dimly traced.
She thinks of the children grown
and the empty nest of herself
already past wishing to be that young again.
And around her the dying.
How we bury who once we were –
grand daughter, daughter, niece, wife, lover, friend –
they leave us and we become them.
Now in her house she sees silence framed in ornate gold,
plumped couches holding their breath.
Can she bear the stillness of old timbers
and empty rooms, the hollow stares of teddy bears?
Dust collects in the doll house,
tin soldiers years ago gave up their march.
What holds her now – this gathering of years?
Before the mirror she slips
into another silken wish, observes the shape and flow
of her whole life and sees there a new grace;
she feels the smooth possibility
presented in the glass,
and something wild in her burns.