Monday, April 19, 2010

Mirror, by Mark Strand

A white room and a party going on
and I was standing with some friends
under a large gilt-framed mirror
that tilted slightly forward
over the fireplace.
We were drinking whiskey
and some of us, feeling no pain,
were trying to decide
what precise shade of yellow
the setting sun turned our drinks.
I closed my eyes briefly,
then looked up into the mirror:
a woman in a green dress leaned
against the far wall.
She seemed distracted,
the fingers of one hand
fidgeted with her necklace,
and she was staring into the mirror,
not at me, but past me, into a space
that might be filled by someone
yet to arrive, who at that moment
could be starting the journey
which would lead eventually to her.
Then, suddenly, my friends
said it was time to move on.
This was years ago,
and though I have forgotten
where we went and who we all were,
I still recall that moment of looking up
and seeing the woman stare past me
into a place I could only imagine,
and each time it is with a pang,
as if just then I were stepping
from the depths of the mirror
into that white room, breathless and eager,
only to discover too late
that she is not there.

- Poem courtesy of Knopf Poetry.  Listen to Strand read this poem here.  Sign up for Knopf's Poem-a-Day service here.  Lastly, a hat tip, and deep bow in her direction, to Andrea A. for her suggestion of the poem. 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

That sounds very like the premise of the film 'Indecent Proposal' where the Robert Redford character described meeting a woman on the subway and being haunted ever since...I'm not quite sure what to think about that...

Sensory memories are so powerful but is it shallow to build up so much around them? Are these moments exemplative of the state of your life at that moment i.e. you feel you're lacking in something and want inspiration and then attach too much importance on them, or a pure, hard-to-recapture genuine emotion?

And why can't people find it in the day-to-day grind: does it HAVE to be unusual and special? Why does it have to read like a Fitzgerald novel or in magical realism like Marquez?

Dunno! I like escapism. I'm only asking in a rhetorical fashion.