Monday, May 24, 2010

Tuesday Poem: Miriam Levine, "Surprise"


Steam from the shower clouds the mirror
except for the lower left corner above the lit candle.

The dry corner, blue as ice and shaped like a flame,
reflects my hip and smoky taupe tile.

There's even a bit of my hand and a piece of the shower curtain
called "Disco, which has silver facets stamped in the plastic.

I'm leaving my wet body to live on the other side of the mirror--
like looking in through a hole in the second-floor window.

Where am I standing? On a ladder?
Who is that dripping and coated with steam?

She's staring--amazed.
What is she staring at?

That dry bit of mirror,
the shape of a flame.

"Surprise" was published in The Dark Opens, a collection of poems, 2008, Autumn House Press.

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  1. The first surprise is that you chose to post this beautiful poem on a Monday, rather than on a Tuesday. And secondly, that crossing over to 'the other side' was so smoothly done that I had to read it twice to realise that it was you on the other side, looking at the real you on this side, looking at the candle on the corner. How marvellous! I love that word- and role-play. Many thanks.

    Greetings from London.

  2. Ah, Miriam,

    This is sublime. All the archetypes are here. You have an impeccable sense of balance.

  3. Lovely to hear from you, Cuban and Lenten! How I like to link those two words. (Cuban in London, I post on Monday as a courtesy to readers in New Zealand, where the Tuesday Poem blog originates--makes it less confusing for them. Next time, I'll post Monday night as late as possible.)

  4. Such a sensuous poem, Mim; an image that hangs lightly on steam, clouds, smoky taupe, your hip, the other side - and staring...

    I love the way you are both participant and observer here - and too, the way you start and end the poem with the hard-edged mirror and the soft candle flame.

  5. I like the careful and particular detail of this poem and the way it draws the reader in. In fact, the way that detail is the revelation of the poem and the thing that opens the poem up - like the small mirrors in a kaleidescope - each small thing reflecting and reflecting, becoming greater than itself, unending, something wonderful.

  6. this captures that oddness when we see a reflection of ourselves unexpectedly, the altered reality, the lack of perceptual censoring.
    so interesting, mim; playful and serious.

  7. I love the idea so beautifully portrayed here of time, a sense of self - that 'who am I?' question we all sometimes ask ourselves. A still, calm poem full of wondering, confidence, self-assurance ...

  8. Susan in Maine, Kay and Mary in New Zealand: Do you know Thoreau's phrase, "doubling off," the ability to see ourselves from the outside even as we live in the present? I've always liked his way of seeing. Thanks for your comments.

  9. I was first aware of this strange looking-glass experience when I was about six years old. And you've captured it. Lovely.

  10. Hello, Signs:

    Crossing over to the other side of the mirror but luckily without vertigo, yes?

  11. I love this. I've read it about 49 times now.