Mallarmé's Mirror
        for Jeremy Reed

To be disembodied is to be emboldened
to allow that face he could not own
a maliciousness, that, admit it,
only life could love.

Highlights on nose, forehead, chin;
the lights of a man cluster like bees,
the molecules and atoms of the fact of him,
a writhing of idea with facility...
To be an eye sees in whilst looking out,
the room, reversed, open within his face:
table, window, a white deal chair with pipe,
irrevocable in their positioning,
nouns sounding darkly in space...

A purposefulness appalling in its purposes;
a gorgeousness for so cheap a display:
this mirror, ornately framed for mere glassiness.
So little of him left in its laid-bare room;
he is gloss on glass, the room's order reporting
every thought-lapse from its purpose as a room.
Is it the glass construes him
from ornamentation, reporting his trespass
to Lords of Lapses, who lift
bears muzzles to the mirror, to that hive
of clustering lights?

Provence light swallows the neighbouring olive of Tournon;
stars wheel within his own frame;
the Great Beast treading the gas-light's glare, to fix
itself in him, a starry distortion of him...
then if that beast should set in, say, Fiji, Tahiti -
the impossible Gauguin of him - what would remain?

A mirror. And a maliciousness
that shatters light. A yellow radiance breaking through,
clothes in clustering admonishments
of light, to re-create him in oils of light,
breaking his root in this room altogether until
yellow fades to white, and he is cleansed
even of that, runs clear and pure through
unwritten literatures of light.
Michael Murray
Two Passages : Christopher Woods