the mirror with the lights off

This was originally posted on Yum Yum Union.

Let me introduce you to someone important. Stand in front of the bathroom sink and flick the light-switch and there she is: a dark-room apparition. She reads all those books I buy in droves of wishful thinking, in trundles of optimism, hoping not to peruse their pages piecemeal so much as wanting a past-tense ingestion, to be the woman who read it, who ate up the classics and coughed up chicken bones. She climbed Mount Everest in eighteen months and descended (frostbitten and thereby seven-toed) with a twin on each tit, conceived (she says) from surmounting a phallic symbol. She married a man with a broken nose who did, or did not, look like her father — parental resemblance wasn’t a factor in the man or their matrimony. People palm her stretch-marks for good luck. She feeds the hungry. She is the big spoon. She rises (supple) at 6 AM and skillets up daybreak, runs four miles, stores sweat discreetly in a ponytail, which she later wrings out over grateful primroses. She is never angry, or only righteously, enough to overturn gambling tables and inspire terror in certain stripèd would-be predators. She wrote the new American novel. She beat up a (mean) bear. She has my mother’s generosity and fortitude, my father’s wit and sympathy. She speaks meaningfully. She whistles when en-route. She has a silver tooth from a boxing match; her victory assured the unionization of midwest plumbers. She tries every time. She says thank-you correctly. She shits gold, so they spread it over grain fields and then reap gilded bread, which they ladle out to panhandlers in Philadelphia, o mercy, o happy day, thank you, thank you, they say, between yellow mouthfuls. She is a sharp-shooter, a good hugger, a great dancer, a 100% successful romancer. Her optimism is infectious; it routinely re-combines and emerges, mutated, from southern Asia, a fresh strain of pandemia. When she dies, they come in crowds of black cowls to gnash teeth and touch the ruined feet, the sloping breasts, they wish to grasp the legendary bicuspid but her daughter strung it on a chain and wears it around the house, pinching it for maternal wisdom, they tell her their troubles, they open the cask twice a day for the edification of the public, when she dies they are at a loss — and she dies often, at a second flick of the light-switch, when the room goes from pure possibility to white-tile and unworthy odors, kitty litter, aging magazines, tooth-paste, she dies when I press the snooze button, she expires under cutting words, she perishes when my temper flares and when my attention wobbles, my conviction wavers, she suffers from second-helpings of blue ribbon pound cake, I garrot her with untendered apologies, I kill her with unkindness, I exsanguinate her with selfishness and sloth.

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