Tuesday, June 9, 2009


There are a thousand mirrors in all directions. The sound of the chainsaw on the hill. The neighbors that can only be heard when bickering for the remote. The birds which compete for scraps of bread. And maybe when I look I can’t see the contour of my face or the glint in my eye, but as I hear that bird chirping like a metronome at 5 in the morning, as I see school children running to the white ice cream truck, the mirror reflects more than the skin. Deeper even than the body, reflected back are the habits I carry from form to form. Quick moving bursts of energy that move in cyclical patterns, shapes that are hard to grasp, but I see their trail. Fallen timber, cyclones of anger, streams of tears. If I look, I can see the path of each invisible impulse, like subatomic particles in a cloud chamber.
Two little girls mirror us so closely I can almost hear their mocking laugher. But they do not know that their shadows stand before them, their selves in twenty years. They cannot step out of the sphere that coats them like a bubble. Only while my skin sticks with the iridescent film of a broken orb can I see my mini reflection. Wrapped in pink clothes and shrill voices. Covered in silky hair and tall-tales. They are sisters on the teeter-totter. If one is happy, the other is sad. A well-meaning present for one means the jealousy of the other. We are older, yet we act just the same, the teeter-totter of emotion that bings and bangs, never achieving a moment of balance. Never riding the hot air balloon together. One of us always chooses to stay on the ground, looking up with tears in her eyes as the balloon takes flight. I look at the little girls, I look at them with objective eyes, clear and unclouded by the spheres of emotion that usually whirl around me like a dust storm. On this sunny afternoon, one little girl is happy, she’s going to the library. The other is hiding somewhere, crumpled in a corner, upset that she’s staying home. They match our black and white, our need to balance in extremes. They mirror our inability to move and think and remember beyond the present moment.
Like dogs, we are two little girls with the bodies of women, two little girls with the maturity of children. I may be able to drive and feed and clothe myself, I might look like any other full-grown human with breasts and hips and painted lips, but I have stayed so small, still completely trapped in the most base of concerns, my web of identification that shifts from one action to the next, from one stimulus to the other. We fight like them, we compete like them. One moment of attention is never enough. They compete for wrapping paper, they compete for food and treats, they compete for attention and praise. They are living mirrors. And as I watch them, they seem so silly, so machine-like in their competition and negative balancing. But in this body, I lose any sense of objectivity. It is my own pain which I feel, my own sense of exclusion, my own need for praise and attention that seems to constantly be stifled by the sister in front of me. How can I keep the mirror propped up? How can I remember to look when it seems so easy to just keep my eyes closed. If I can see it over and over, if I see the reflection staring back at me with wide eyes and shock, maybe I’ll have a chance at remembering the teeter-totter I ride.

No comments: