Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Vitreous Humour

Gathering in hollows the waters lie
reflecting what's above but not below,
supine eyes staring at the azure sky,
unsighted spurning what they cannot know:
though stray beams filter through the gloomy deep
and keep unconscious denizens from sleep.

Moving on the waters, the winds disturb
the sun's bright paintings with crude striations
and those airy vibrations that perturb
the symmetry of light's fine creations:
below, mother's shells gleam with pearly pride,
where vain procrustean thoughts are wont to hide.

Sheltering from the wind beneath the trees,
a pair of youthful eyes take their delight
in talk between the water and the breeze,
revealed by the play of flickering light
reflected on his features as he kneels
to touch the one who neither knows nor feels.

Fleeting ripples, water's brief memory
of wind, soon dissipate upon the shore,
but nothing catches light's celerity
or persists of reflections made before:
only a perceiving mind can capture
both the cooling breeze or vision's rapture.

At first there was polished obsidian
then beaten copper or burnished bronze for
ladies to admire their complexion,
or for Martial men dressing up for war.
Mercury and Saturn laid under glass,
helped vanity and weary days to pass.

On the Island of Murano a boon
was invented in aid of vanity,
Mercury, not yet wedded to the Moon,
ruled alone, but  spread his insanity,
until Bohemian silver paved the way,
leaving Venetian craft to yesterday.  

Once the secret was loosed upon the world,
mirrors abounded in the stately halls,
with prancing ladies, hair bewigged and curled,
dancing in glass canyons with mirrored walls:
a hundred candles, spawning hundreds more,
breathed smoke and showered wax upon the floor.

By day Apollo's golden arrows fly
but in the night Selene's silver dearth
paints pale moonscapes beneath the sparkling sky,
where starlings fly above the dreaming Earth.
Young moonstruck virgins rise with restless heads
for naked views in mirrors by their beds.

At midnight, peering in the scrying bowl
may yield apparitions or none at all,
or spell disaster to a damned soul,
doomed to wander hopeless in Hades' Hall:
but broken mirrors only mean seven years
bad luck for those with superstitious fears.

The image in the looking glass I see
contains another I that is untrue:
the mystery of the mirror is not me,
but spatial confusion between the two:
we do not see the messengers of light,
but their messages only after flight.

In the mirror I see another me,
twins fathered by the looking glass are we,
divided by a twisted parity.
Narcissus admires his divinity
and leans forward to give himself a kiss
but not close enough for that spectral bliss.

In the Hall of Mirrors at the fairground,
the twisted forms of friends or family
cause merriment and laughter to resound
from the shining walls, but no enmity
to anyone or even wounded pride,
but relief at being taken for a ride.

The friendly glass confirms identity:
what we appear to be not who we are,
as whole beings of possibility
and dynamic selves who become aware
of others too, caught in imperfect bliss
or webs of pain, when we reflect on this.

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