NOW DO YOU UNDERSTAND WHAT
HEAVEN IS IT IS THE SURROUND OF THE LIVING
James Merrill

You’d expect a certain view from such a mirror—
clearer
than one which hangs in the entry and decays.
I gaze
past my reflection toward other things:
bat wings,
burnt-gold upon blue, which decorate the wall
and all
those objects collected from travels, now seen
between
its great gold frame, diminished with age:
a stage
where, still, the supernatural corps-de-ballet
displays
its masquerade in the reflected light.
At night,
I thought I’d see the faces of the dead.
Instead,
the faces of the ghosted silver sea
saw me.

This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 31 Number 5, on page 46
Copyright © 2017 The New Criterion | www.newcriterion.com
https://newcriterion.com/issues/2013/1/mirror