Guest poem sent in by Salima Virani , in response to the suggested theme - poems by writers better known for their prose.
(Poem #1363) Tricks with Mirrors
i It's no coincidence this is a used furniture warehouse. I enter with you and become a mirror. Mirrors are the perfect lovers, that's it, carry me up the stairs by the edges, don't drop me, that would be back luck, throw me on the bed reflecting side up, fall into me, it will be your own mouth you hit, firm and glassy, your own eyes you find you are up against closed closed ii There is more to a mirror than you looking at your full-length body flawless but reversed, there is more than this dead blue oblong eye turned outwards to you. Think about the frame. The frame is carved, it is important, it exists, it does not reflect you, it does not recede and recede, it has limits and reflections of its own. There's a nail in the back to hang it with; there are several nails, think about the nails, pay attention to the nail marks in the wood, they are important too. iii Don't assume it is passive or easy, this clarity with which I give you yourself. Consider what restraint it takes: breath withheld, no anger or joy disturbing the surface of the ice. You are suspended in me beautiful and frozen, I preserve you, in me you are safe. It is not a trick either, it is a craft: mirrors are crafty. iv I wanted to stop this, this life flattened against the wall, mute and devoid of colour, built of pure light, this life of vision only, split and remote, a lucid impasse. I confess: this is not a mirror, it is a door I am trapped behind. I wanted you to see me here, say the releasing word, whatever that may be, open the wall. Instead you stand in front of me combing your hair. v You don't like these metaphors. All right: Perhaps I am not a mirror. Perhaps I am a pool. Think about pools.
[comments] While I recognise Atwood's distinct style of writing, I have never really been engaged by any of her books. However, this poem by Atwood, nabbed my attention and is one of the finest I've read on the role of a woman. The poem is couched in metaphors - and objectifying herself as a mirror, Atwood points out the many parallels between a mirror and a woman in the shadow of a man. I really like the way - it starts by first acknowledging the imposed subordination and then goes on to remind the reader that "There is more to a mirror than you looking at" and that one should not "assume it is passive or easy, this clarity with which I give you yourself.". What has started as a sentiment of resignation and vulnerability , climaxes to an appeal for change and leaves you hoping that it will crystallize into determination and resolve to actually make the change. [Bio] Margaret Eleanor Atwood, poet, novelist, and critic, was born November 18, 1939 in Ottawa. She was educated at the University of Toronto (E.J. Pratt Medal, 1961) and Radcliffe College, Harvard University, Mass. Early influences on Atwood's mythic and archetypal poetry (Double Persephone 1961) were Northrop Frye andJay MacPherson. In 1966 The Circle Game was awarded the Governor's General Award, establishing Atwood's poetic reputation. In the 1970's Atwood was an editor for House of Anansi Press and This Magazine. Atwood's prolific output has included criticism, Survival: A Thematic Guide to Canadian Literature (1972), Second Words (1982); novels, Lady Oracle (1976), Bodily Harm (1981); short stories, Dancing Girls (1977),Bluebeard's Egg (1983) and children's books Anna's Pet (1980), among others. In 1985 Atwood was awarded the Governor General's Award for her novel The Handmaid's Tale. Atwood has definitely put Canadian literature on the world map. Shortlisted three times for the Booker Prize, she finally won it with Blind Assasin. Atwood continues to live and write in Toronto. [/bio] Cheers, Salima