The mirror in this rented room is fixed
exactly to reflect my pillowed face,
the first thing I set eyes on when I wake.
Most nights I hang a hasty covering
to save me from the sight of cheeks caved,
bags under eyes, mottled age.
Or is it in case my other self steals
out from behind thin silver, feels
its way across the gulf to enter me,
so I start to do everything backwards,
miss my mouth, turn notebook sideways,
my words always edgeways.
Or if for fear I die before night passes,
and that other world traps my soul fast.
I am forever pinned under glass.
For three days I am to be struck dumb,
witness to their potted version of my death,
they take centre stage in my kitchen,
poke through the ashes of my sullen hearth.
Three days I stand here like a statue,
my eyes are blotted out, my breath is mist,
so that these learned men can patch me,
give back the ones I never would have left.
I must do as I am told, embrace this veil,
be covered in their lies, make no plea,
take clever words from pursed lips and smile,
or those I love the most are lost to me.
In three days’ time I’ll be done with veils,
let them hold on to this one for a shroud.
Annette Skade’s first collection Thimblerig was published following her receipt of the Cork Literary Review Manuscript prize in 2012. She has been published in various anthologies and magazines in Ireland, the UK and the U.S. She has won and been placed in several international poetry competitions. She is currently undertaking a PhD on allusion and intertext in the poetry of Anne Carson at Dublin City University.