© Steve King
All rights reserved
in high shadows—
still he hears them,
live things he’d command to follow
through the exit door
briefly into blinding light.
And those faces—
pastiche of regard
that he used as his mirror
while he preened;
strained to see them, sly,
all downstage posing, to be sure,
not watching, not the way they looked at him,
not rapt and bold and senseless;
not like poor Narcissus, no,
caught up cold within his fatal gaze,
not at all, oh no.
They never knew he watched.
He must not lose himself in their plain sight,
could not lose himself,
they could not see him seeing.
He was more clever than that, he thought.
They were but the mirror,
reflecting, quick, the flash
of all his emptied art.
And where then might he turn?
There was not space enough to be
in the midst of the new emptiness.
Surely not the exit door, not yet;
not that undiscriminating light;
not that undirected clamor
brooking no silence, no graceful stop.
How might he own all that—
The indifferent stares
that would not recognize nor linger?
How might he hold those emptied eyes,
command such casual vision
to all his well-tuned verities.
Where, oh where to turn?
If only there were mirrors cast within,
if only he might satisfy himself
without resort to any art,
without regifting his whole world at large;
if only he could see the way they saw,
simple and with clarity.
Just for the moment,
moments like this,
when lights were faded
to their shadow homes on high;
with every echo and alarm
yet resonant, reprising absent charms.