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Look in the Mirror
by Martina Reisz Newberry
Look in the mirror. The face that pins you with its double gaze reveals a chastening secret
When I was barely out of infancy,
I learned that my father and mother held
between them a great sadness.
Her cellular memory was that of a
Jewess in Bergen-Belsen; his cells held
laughter, music, and the dancing of gypsies.
They could never be one soul. Bodies?
Mother hated sex. She protested to me that
she could smell the steel mill on my father,
that his fingernails were always dirty.
I was their only "issue." Would my life
have been different had I been born the
love child of Jim Morrison and Chrissy Hynde:
Who knows what choices are offered to the
unhappy crazy women and confused
working men of this world? When night terrors
overtook me, it was my father who
came to sing them away. When we visited
my mother's madhouses, it was Father
who smiled afterward and told funny stories
while I strained to look back, to get one more
glimpse of her—hair blown in her face, eyes—all
pupils without knowing in them. I know
what you must think: that my story is no
sadder than yours and you're right. It isn't.
This is only a way of explaining
my alliances and my apparitions.
I offer you a way of seeing, a
way to know why I hate the end of
Summer, why I revise the rules, why my
heart aches when November's sky turns to
aluminum and the atmosphere is
dark with the low drumming of Winter.
(from AFTER THE EARTHQUAKE)