SELF-SEPARATION IS A MIRROR WITH WHAT HAVE I DONE.
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
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
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
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.
LIGHT IS A MIRROR WITH NATIVITY.
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
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
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. www.katherineindermaur.com