“Mirror, Mirror”

. . At ten, I haul in the heavy mirror from the front room and lay it on the floor.  I cover it with an old towel, lift a hammer and strike.

I yank the shards apart, glad there are larger pieces than last time.  I seem to have the knack, exactly the right amount of force behind the strike.  I stare at the wall where I’ve glued other shards in a mosaic that begins in the centre with a mottled trapezoid and progresses outward with other bits all shapes, all sizes, all quality of glass.  It’s a puzzle, this new project, a huge puzzle, and that’s the point.

I glue a piece, then another and another, working with intensity until there are none left.  Midnight, one o’clock, two o’clock.  Mirror, mirror, I chant.  On the wall, my mind drums.  I stand back.

My image is reflected a hundred, a thousand times.  I am fragmented, the whole of me there in pieces.  I grin, and my crooked face grimaces back in numbers.  I raise my arms above my head, stand on tiptoes, stretch, and my broken image flashes a cubist self.

I’ve heard that breaking a mirror breaks the breaker’s soul.  What if you break many mirrors?  What if you break a piece of mirror already broken?  I’ve heard a soul may be caught and trapped in a mirror.  Does breaking it then set it free?

And what of the seven years of bad luck?  Is it multiplied seven-fold for every break?

I’ve heard you can turn fortune around.  If you wait seven hours before picking up the shards, then bury them in moonlight, or submerge them in south-running water, or grind them to dust.  I’ve heard it’s possible to wave a mirror at Kali and appease her need for human sacrifice; to trick her, in other words, with a reflection.

I’ll re-create all this.  Broken pieces waiting to be picked up.  Pieces buried in moonlight, submerged in water, ground to dust.  I’ll mould a clay Kali and surround her with mirrors.  I’ll make a mobile of shards each carrying a soul.

I take a breath and then another, beginning a yoga routine.  Trancelike, I stretch, move, breathe and pose.  A thousand versions of myself move and pose within the wall.

Three o’clock. The rain intensifies, drawing my attention to the window, another view of myself.  Oddly, there is more solidity in the image there, not a mirror at all, but something to look through.

Staring at my faces and broken bodies in the mirrors, I force my mind to sing the list of interconnecting muscles.  As I beat out the academic syllables, I see the machine they make—my body, muscles hooked to strings of tendons, tendons controlled by synapse and neurons, fired by chemistry, and mysteriously, marvellously, encasing a soul.

Tomorrow I’ll paint my self-portrait like this.  In the warrior’s pose trapped in the mirrored wall. . . .


From Flesh.


  1. ahhh…hammering away while we soothe our souls How like us.

    “In the warrior pose, trapped in the mirrored wall”

    I am just beginning to explore your creative site and want unhurried visits so I can savor the feast you are placing before my hungry eyes. FLESH must become available to me soon. I’ll be checking my local Barnes & Noble often so I can get a “first edition” before the second printing.

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