Into the Looking Glass

I shall look no more in the looking glass, that tells no courteous lies,
I am sick of the face in the looking glass, I am sick of its bleary eyes,
I am sick of the nose in the looking glass, it is such an enormous size.

For the face I see in the looking glass is always the same old face,
Where the heavy hand of relentless time has left its relentless trace,
And every mark that the years have made stands still in the selfsame place.

I can see the dent in my upper lip that was made by a piece of ice,
I can see the bumps where they dropped me as a baby once or twice,
I can see the slowly receding hair that the years have gnawed like mice.

I know that face in the looking glass, what aspects it may wear,
From the watery gleam of wan delight to the grin of gay despair,
And half-shut eyes of doleful dawn and the morning-after stare.

I shall hang a curtain before my glass that is heavy and soft and thick,
I shall blindly fumble with awkward hands at hairbrush and shaving stick,
But I shall not look in the looking glass at the face that makes me sick.

I shall go on walking around the world, and the world may look at me,
And the hardened ones shall hold their ground, and the little children flee.
But I look no more in the looking glass, I am sick of what I see. 

Published in the Atlantic Monthly, 1952

Into the Looking Glass

 

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