The Covered Mirror


The Slave in the Magic Mirror

The one who knows all and knows nothing

The one who looks like me


She says…


“Do not do these things”

At times, I will listen to her sage advice

But others, I will not

I am stubborn and I am weak

I will cover the mirror in silk or in sackcloth

Lest she see me in my failing

I do the two things I have been advised against

On one side of the glass I sift the ashes

The finished things

On the other, I juggle the fire

The dangerously possible


I winnow the cinders and dust

I gather the splintered fragments

I try to arrange the broken

My hands are tattered in the attempt

The salt and the iron flow

But I am defeated again

I take up the jagged things

I score my flesh

With each painful carved note

I try to rewrite the stanzas

Compose a different song

To replace the one that was so mournful

In the end I cannot

Have I not been warned?

I take my battered red sheets

I hide in my prompter’s box alone

Buried beneath the darkened stage


Sometimes, on the other side of the glass

I disdain her other caution

I play with dangerous flames

I turn away and crave the different things

I gamble with that which is precious

Sit at the table and ask for another hand

I stare at the infinite possibilities

I fantasize about turning the crisp, smooth cards over

To find something new and beautiful

The Kings and the Jacks and the Aces

A fresh game of chance

But I hear the muted voices

I think of the inestimable treasures

That will not be found here

No matter what lies on the painted faces still held tantalizingly close

I cash in my chips and I run

Quickstep on my frightened gazelle feet

My handful of special wealth clasped carefully to me

Back to my room

To the covered mirror

I am shamed and despairing

I have failed again

I know better, I have long known better

Yet I am human

I stumble



I still carry Hope

Hope says


“Be better someday”


-Jessie Henry








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