Photograph: Clarence Hudson White, “The Mirror,” 1912
By Ann Howells
Fixed Stars I know nothing. But you know, seem to know, everything. Don’t look away – I’ll have no regrets, will remember May’s gold-drenched hours hillside quilted with poppies, grasses pliant beneath me, swollen river rushing with spring, you stroking my skin. Don’t look away – Memories can be sweet, I’ll recount them as blessings, remember scattered pieces, scraps, a patchwork quilt unstitched: gentle fingered leaves of the willow, curve-winged swifts scything sky. Your sacred tongue, offers no promises, warns passion is fleeting, pain is as valid as pleasure. You know, seem to know, everything. Don’t look away – I’ll have no regrets. Weightless and Invisible The trip back to school seems a sort of time travel – perhaps by the time I arrive I’ll be innocent once more: all white blouse, knee socks, loafers, carrying an armful of schoolbooks. Perhaps, there is something to be said for a life unpossessed and unpossessing. Outside the window in heavy autumnal rain two umbrellas pass – one large and purple, the other a frivolous fuchsia emblazoned with yellow ducks. I will huddle in my faded quilt, go from glorious summer to drear winter overnight. Waking in the Mirror A crack halves my mirror, I view reflections at minimally different angles: woman I am, girl I used to be. Indigo encroaches autumn sky, long fingers of twilight, and the river glistens dark, glittered with reflections like scattered stars as though I look down on the heavens. In twos and threes egrets pass overhead, white nuns in long black stockings. They glow from within, dazzling and numinous. I am bundled in time rather than quilts – shed grief like layers of an onion. I am better than I could be, worse than I had hoped.