by Emma Aylor

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The mirror itself was scarcely larger than an eye.

It was found, as so much is, as trash, buried,


long detached,

                                    one of the small metals


women in Roman Gaul would offer to love,

or to the moon for love. In the emptied park


near my apartment, I read

of kinds of devotion that ask reciprocity:


As the god gives something, you give something back.


Back there, it’s been months

since I touched a person.

                                                      Look: I’m far away, writing this,


I don’t live anymore alone in the northwest city

where there’s no chance to see the whole gray sky.

I said get me to flat, let me roll


the cramped spine arid, out.

It’s a year ago now.

                                        I could say I’ve returned.

Buried reliquary in the ground, sunlight


can’t reach—what reflection, then, could I ask?

It’s impossible, but I could imagine:


votive mirrors like moons


glint in an earth thick as night. They reflect not light

but a history of being held and known. Of these objects,


Sobin uses the verb disclose.

He says the mirrors divulged.


Not so like looking from my old window

to a street

                    swept of people, or only masked people, nothing


like the pieces that offered—out

of the depths of the devotee’s gaze—

a form of response. A little eye. A face. Flame.


Should the poem be a mirror; should it hand


an image back; should it blacken, tarnish, or crack

the eye looking at itself for something else—already


I knew, this year ago, it shows me nothing of you.



Note: The italicized text is quoted from Gustaf Sobin’s “Votive Mirrors: A Reflection,” in Luminous Debris: Reflecting on Vestige in Provence and Languedoc (University of California Press, 1999).