“Lapse,” digital art by H. Kopp-Delaney, 2010. Used with permission.

by Timothy Walsh

From where I sit, the mirror on the opposite wall
shows the outside world
through the window behind me.
This is not a Platonic allegory,
or misty symbolism,
just as it actually is as I sit this morning
looking up at the mirror,
watching the snow fall on a world already white.

The mirror, bought at an antique shop,
is perhaps a hundred years old—
has seen more light than my own eyes.
The stout oak frame and beveled edges of the glass
lend a crystal clarity to the scenes it shows,
more arresting because enclosed.

I suppose this is why we trim our rooms in wood—
why we frame our mirrors, windows,
paintings, and doors,
marking the portals we pass through bodily
or with our eyes.

Now the snow is falling so heavily, it seems
the mirror will soon fill up with snow,
snow creeping higher up the edges,
drifting against the glass.

The tick-tock of the eight-day clock
and the cradle-rock of its pendulum catches
my eye.
There are so many mirrors and clocks in this house,
the eddies of time and dazzles of light
suffuse the wood-trimmed rooms.

I adjust the eyeglasses on my nose—twin lenses
set in frames, hooked behind my ears.
I know there are lenses as well somewhere
in the lucent grapes of my eyes.
Lens of eye and eyeglass lens,
mirror glass and window glass—
we live amid a maze of light,
prism, crystal, water, and ice.

I listen as the ticking clock regulates the falling snow,
a cup of coffee cooling by my side,
a blizzard in the looking glass gracing
an otherwise empty wall.

omega man

Timothy Walsh’s poems and short stories have appeared in The North American Review, Arts & Letters, Cutthroat, New Millennium Writings, and others. His awards include the Grand Prize in the Atlanta Review International Poetry Competition, the Kurt Vonnegut Fiction Prize from North American Review, and the Wisconsin Academy Fiction Prize. He is the author of a book of literary criticism, The Dark Matter of Words: Absence, Unknowing, and Emptiness in Literature (Southern Illinois University Press) and two poetry collections, Wild Apples (Parallel Press) and Blue Lace Colander (Marsh River Editions). He is an Assistant Dean at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.