In many cases, people with severe dissociative disorders experience

discomfort and disorientation when they look at themselves in the mirror.

They are unlikely to see a predictable reflection due to the mutability of

self-image in multiple personality disorder1.


What the subject sees in the mirror is susceptible to consciousness.

What we see is consciousness made visible.





My reflection haunts, always eager to mute my|my gaze.


The s|bject objectifies herself. Even verbs split the I, reflexive: subject|

object. What we|we hear: simulacra.                          The Eye in

Iconography, staring.












The changing nature of the face and the body means the mystery

evolves. Like a shadow, the s|bject is always on her heels.


Unseen: the ocean beyond the dyke.                    Unseen: this work of



It’s a crisis to constantly manage one’s face. The subject|object meets

our gaze. The s|bject is briefly lucid. The object shines.





Before the trifold mirror outside the fitting rooms of a department store, a

toddler delights in her image. She dances and waves her|her arms,

giggles and spins.


Children beg parents for something again, again—but before the mirror,

she|she is her|her





own engine of again. Or the mirror is. They grow indistinguishable.


My|My therapist suggests I|I see my|self as a child, have patience with

her when she’s tired and sorry. In the mirror, the s|bject eyes the object.

This childseeing means admitting to fracture, admitting the failures of

sight, admitting













At night when I|I stare in the bathroom mirror, I|I sometimes turn on the

faucet to sound like more than looking. How many baths we|we could

have taken in those years of water. How many cut glass bowls she

could have rinsed clear.


How clean all could be.





If I|I’d been born in a time before glass. Would I|I still be this broken.

Would I|I still find a way to fracture. I|I want to tell her she is hurting me.


Eye or I. But we|we already





If the s|bject knows anything, she|she knows light emanates from

destruction and destruction and.














Magnifying mirrors are a cosmetic accessory said to be necessary to

elegance and bathroom comfort. Magnifying mirrors seek to close the

gap between the s|bject’s pores and the s|bject’s gaze. The farther I|I

stand from the mirror, the larger our image. I|I cannot escape the

cratered surface of our|our face.





Mirrors as necessary to comfort—comfort, from the Latin confortare,

meaning to strengthen. Of the many methods for strengthening, some

involve great discomfort.


Glass seems stronger in its molten state than at room temperature. How

uncomfortable, the potential for shatter.





The difference between etch and pierce is but a film, a skin. Both




Words reflect one another, windowpanes coated with sound like a slick

of mercury. Each inside its own frame, wanting out—





In 1902, American sociologist Charles Cooley theorized what he called

“the looking glass self,” that we|we do not know ourselves as a result of

others’ perceptions, but how we|we perceive others perceiving us. We|

We look out at looking. We|We project a reflection. Everywhere, our|our

loves’ eyes shine us|us back in.












My|My desire, reflected, becomes shame. The mirror is my|my tool of

disloyalty. Eye|Eye refuse to be










The presence of a mirror elicits shame2. Shame is a self-separation. In

giving this face back to me|me, the mirror takes my|my loneliness. I|I am

beside my

self, this mirror






“A true citizen of planet earth closes their eyes
and says what they are before the mirror.”
–Joshua Jennifer Espinoza, “Things Haunt”



I|I don’t know that I|I’m a true anything, regardless of how the mirror

hears me|me. I|I exhale to speak. My|My exhale fogs the mirror, blurs

this|this face, haunts my|my want in looking.


























In one room of the Museum of Senses in Prague, there is a panel

containing several horizontal strips of mirror with space between. A

plaque on the wall asks the subject to stand before the panel, and her

love to stand behind. When they line up perfectly with one another, half

of one body becomes





the other. The bodies are vertically interchangeable—one chin, another

nose; one breast, another belly. The illusion is broken by one. Breath.













If the saying seeing is believing is to be believed, and seeing is subject

to the s|bject’s subconscious, then I simply see what I|I want.

Blindspots. Their circular edges fuzz, a gentle transition to lightlessness.





I|I’m lying. I|I’ve never seen a blindspot.





A mirror reflects even its own surface. The gap is an illusion of distance

doubled. Not just space between the surface and its backing, but all that

seen twice, light coursing through it all again.



Everything in this universe caught up in a lag. Expanded time. Swell of

space across which light waves.













The moon knows her luminous face. She watches it glide over oceans.

Her|Her yearning tugs at every ocean’s weight, fractures it to waves.


It is not loneliness that calls out her|her longing—it is seeing her|her

light, and having no way to hold





Time has a way of making the s|bject feel like she gets to etch herself

into what’s left of before. There is a way to be present without being the

absence of what’s already here. It is the way of light.



Light’s handprints are everywhere. They weigh more nothing than




Call into being all everywheres.                                                     No where

without light.













Light travels and this is a miracle. The unrelenting push and pull of

bright. Light takes up space. Light takes. Light shines through

dimensionality and in its directional shine calls into being the stretch





of time. One lightyear is the circumference of 236 million Earths

unwound, outstretched.



Seeing is the world haunting the body. If only it were this clear: Sight so

precise we call it a line.














1 Richard Gregory’s Mirrors in Mind, Penguin UK, 1998.



2 C. Dylan Bassett’s The Invention of Monsters / Plays for the Theatre, Plays Inverse Press, 2015.





Katherine Indermaur is the author of the chapbook Pulse (Ghost City Press, 2018). Her writing has appeared or is forthcoming in Bad Pony, Calamity, Coast|NoCoast, Entropy, Frontier Poetry, Ghost Proposal, Muse /A Journal, Oxidant|Engine, Poetry South, Sugar House Review, Voicemail Poems, and elsewhere. An MFA candidate at Colorado State University, where she won the 2018 Academy of American Poets Prize, she is the managing editor for Colorado Review.