The Shatter Stage

Before mirrors it was just standing pools. There was that whole warning about Narcissus, but no one would have stared that long. The picture in water’s never that clear, the mirrorless say. Certainly, though, some babies of early hominids drowned in the shallows, seeking out playmates in the reflections. Our children in the stage of mirrors spend hours laughing, first at a friend trapped but willing, and then at the quick divergence of selves, and the greatest recognition. That look is a kinship and a revulsion, a peculiar modesty and an enormous defiance, and the revision to their thoughts of inside and outside. It makes for fascinating playtime. The shatter stage is that in reverse. When we lose recognition, when we are old, or unhappy, or avoiding mirrors altogether, that is an abrupt return into one. You are not me, one of us would say, meeting our eyes in the glass. You never were. I know.

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Ha! I blogged it backwards tonight. Actually, I am going to blog it backwards tonight. See, I have to write my way into poeming, especially on Wednesdays, but I think I’m going to post the poem, just to flip up perspectives. That way, I still get to write my way figuring out this damn poem about mirrors. Yesterday my two year-old sat in a little white chair in front of a white, oval, full-length mirror, tilting it back and forth on its stand to watch her face funhouse.  For about ten minutes. She was giggling for almost all of the minutes, and then she got this really grumpy face, got up, stomped her foot, and left.  What made her mad? So I wrote down “mirrors” in my journal, and today has been so busy that it’s all I’ve got on paper tonight. But, but! Mirrors must be on the pink cloud, because today in class mirrors came up in every single one. Really. Something about mirrors must be written, which I think is going to be really hard and probably not that good but, here were the instances, and I think you’ll agree that I had to try: 1) Start talking about Kevin Power’s The Yellow Birds and some how end up talking about Jacques Lacan and the Mirror Stage. 2) Had occasion to revisit Breakfast of Champions and the mirror leaks :

“All around him were what other people called mirrors, which he called leaks. The entire wall which separated the lobby from the cocktail lounge was a leak ten feet high and thirty-feet long. There was another leak on the cigarette machine and yet another on the candy machine. And when Trout looked through them to see what was going on in the other universe, he saw a red-eyed, filthy old creature who was barefoot, who had his pants rolled up to his knees.”

― Kurt Vonnegut, Breakfast of Champions

3) A student lent me Divergent because I’ve decided to see what all the fuss is about, and really that’s all I want to go do right now, and in the first few pages the main character stands in front of the mirror, trying not to look at herself.

Coincidence? Nope.

I poemcrastinate. Now I have no choice but to write down any dumb thought. The length of this bs should tell you how unsure I am about these mirror ideas.

Here:

The Shatter Stage

Before mirrors it was just standing pools. There was that whole warning about Narcissus, but no one would have stared that long. The picture in water’s never that clear, the mirrorless say. Certainly, though, some babies of early hominids drowned in the shallows, seeking out playmates in the reflections. Our children in the stage of mirrors spend hours laughing, first at a friend trapped but willing, and then at the quick divergence of selves, and the greatest recognition. That look is a kinship and a revulsion, a peculiar modesty and an enormous defiance, and the revision to their thoughts of inside and outside. It makes for fascinating playtime. The shatter stage is that in reverse. When we lose recognition, when we are old, or unhappy, or avoiding mirrors altogether, that is an abrupt return into one. You are not me, one of us would say, meeting our eyes in the glass. You never were. I know.

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Ha! Now I am done. Good night, Happy Wednesday, hope you like my mirror poem thing. 

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