To Live (Exist) : The Love/Hate Relationships People Share With Mirrors - Poem by Kristion Robideaux
The first time he saw a mirror,
he was minutes old in a hospital.
Already getting used to the warmth of his blanket away from his mother,
his toothless grins and coos of his reflection meant nothing,
he didn’t know the meaning.
The 607th time he saw a mirror,
he was exactly three and dressed in best.
A mother’s gift of a round, ornate mirror; his tiny hands could not grasp it enough.
Hair parted down the middle, chin - up and to the right, is it impossible for children to take serious portraits?
The 1,501st time he saw a mirror,
He was three and two months in the place he would soon love the most - an old practice dance room.
Cheered on by mother, brother, and father’s spirit, scorned by the new fatherly figure, he learned quickly and instantly obsessed his figure in the room lined with mirrors.
In spare time, his mirror never left his hand.
The 18,409th time he saw a mirror,
he was seven, almost eight, and in advanced ballet.
Thin and lithe, different with no friends.
All he wanted to see was his reflection as he danced in the mirrored room.
The 39,743rd time he saw a mirror,
he was fourteen and devastated in a foster home.
Abuse lies in the past, but memories linger in the present and future, revisited when he looked into the mirror.
His mother gone for a decade, his brother a traitor, his abuser in jail, his shelterer overdosed in 62 medications.
His neglected reflection begging the original to return, it missed it’s friend.
The 40,026th time he saw a mirror,
he was fifteen in an empty train boxcar with unsure destinations, his brother refusing to separate, a homeless man passed out on rotting sacks.
Dressed in rags, his only possession his mother’s gift.
Who was this stranger in the grimy and smudged illusion?
The 40,328th time he saw a mirror,
he was sixteen and living in a wealthy man’s house.
Given new clothes and advice to act fashionably, he had become quite taken to the aristocrat’s daughter.
The mirror, polished and shined every hour, forgave it’s old friend, but never forgot the years of neglect, sucking up won’t pay debts.
The 43,692nd time he saw a mirror,
he was at one of the aristocrat’s luncheons.
He was given an ink bottle and told as long as he was faking status he should draw a mustache on himself and use a French accent.
The forever-changed friend in another dimension consoled him as the tears fell collected on his reflection in the gentlemen’s room.
The 45,811th time he saw a mirror,
he was seventeen and the prom date of his fancy.
Aware that her father would not approve, he wanted to run away with her.
He frantically checked his mirror every few seconds from nerves as he made himself presentable.
When she said yes, the mirror was shoved away into his trouser pocket again to be forgotten, next to the ink bottle.
The 45,812th time he saw a mirror,
he and his bride-to-be ran through the woods, hiding from search parties.
He stopped as a crunching noise resulted from an object falling out of his pocket.
He cursed the ink bottle, remembering he forgot to take it out of his pants.
He knealt, picking up his now cracked mirror, which hideously abstracted his appearance in it’s juts and crevices, for being forgotten once more when the fresh enemy thought he damaged the ink bottle.
The 45,823th time he saw a mirror,
he sat across from his cold, pale, lifeless love, as the blood had finally stopped trickling down her temple.
He remembered her slipping and hitting her head, replaying it non-stop in his memory.
Remembering his most cherished part in his favorite scripture, Oliver Twist,
'With these words he drew his chair closer to the table; and the two friends sat, in silent expectation, with the watch between them.
It is worthy of remark; as illustrating the importance we attach to our own judgments, and the pride with which we put forth our most rash and hasty conclusions: that, although Mr. Grimwig was not by any means a bad-hearted man; and though he would have been unfeignedly sorry to see his respected friend duped and deceived; he really did, most earnestly and strongly, hope at the moment that Oliver Twist might not come back.
It grew so dark that figures on the dial plate were scarcely discernable; but there the two old gentlemen continued to sit, in silence; with the watch between them, '
He carefully pulled out the both the mirror and the ink, and drew clock hands on the mirror’s cracked surface.
As he stared at his new ’watch’ in between him and his love vowing never to move from that spot, he took the role of Mr. Brownlow, as the mirror took center stage as Mr. Grimwig and the watch, outshining the girl’s portrayal of the Oliver that never returns.
That was the last time he saw his mirror.
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