The Monday Poem: ‘A Mirror of a Mirror’ by Michelle Whittaker

The Monday Poem is brought to you by Professor Jim Gormley of the English Department. Enjoy!

A Mirror of a Mirror

The legacy:
was advice
to have two children
to keep around the house
like two Bibles
in case one goes missing.
I used to take red crayon
and scribble on homemade nail polish
and my          would find out
and take that raw-sienna belt
that whip, whip, whip
spoke with a witty rip
and by nightfall my hands
blossomed into numb and dumb.
Actually, on staring at my fingers for a good five minutes,
they look like the legs of a muddy elephant.
It was such a shock
to be told I am a kinda coffee mark
that accidently sat her fat self
on perfect cleanliness.
At sunset
me and boy
walked south
on the sod farm
behind the house
and took an orange blanket
from the trunk, and wrapped ourselves
as Buddhist monks,
and found a spot of life for us to lie about.
You know, a brother and a sister
are not child’s play you can stitch on a happy.
The memory of my          is like
watching an anxious pup hide tidbits
of milk bones round and round he goes
around the house.
I am suspicious of any kiss that hisses,
and there ain’t no Jesus here.
Any spatula-face who rises from the couch
of this house, I move as a mouse.
I think to be nine.
I think to be ten.
I think to be an age
when I show
my sharp teeth too.
Even inside the corner pantry he found me
purpling like a radish, you know, the red one
with the bright white in the middle
once you cut it all up.
How strange my torn fibers
how he stares and stomps
my voice, labored under a table
thinking to our God—
it is so unlovely to be unlovely.
I remind myself
an old man and a young man
are like an old          and a young
the old man is the young man
I remind myself
the old          is the young
who reminds myself
an old daughter is the young daughter
I remind myself
forced solicitation. taught her this.
He taught her how to lay and lie

Michelle Whittaker,
 a poet and pianist, is the winner of a Jody Donohue Poetry Prize and a Pushcart Prize Special Mention. She received a master’s in creative writing and literature from Stony Brook University and lives in East Setauket, Long Island.