Living with the Truth Stranger than Fiction This Is Not About What You Think Milligan and Murphy Making Sense

Friday, 27 January 2017


Reflections of Glass

Her mirrored face reflected grief
and – in the way that some mirrors do –
twisted it (it's a trick of the light).

And when I came to face her, I looked
and I saw nothing and I realised that,
for her, I was not there, as if I were

30 September 1989
It’s a horrible feeling, someone looking straight through you. Had this poem had a later date than this I’m sure I could’ve suggested a few reasons why I might’ve written it but I’ve no idea what occasion prompted this, if any. I’m assuming the poem’s autobiographical. It’s a mistake all readers make especially when the poet uses the first person. Odd that when novelists do the same that’s not the first thing we imagine. Because novels are fiction. And what are poems then? Do we assume poems—especially those that sound like confessions—are non-fiction? Are we forgetting how much we, the readers, contribute to the overall meaning?


vito pasquale said...

You know, I thought that the 7 years of the previous poem were the proverbial length of time one has bad luck when breaking a mirror. Both poems were finished on the same day. Even if not the case, it's an intriguing link between 2 works. I realize that the mirror here is not broken. For her I was not there is a turn on I was not there for her. Could almost be read both ways.

To be invisible when we want to be seen is horrible. I've felt "written off" once in my life and the feeling has never completely left and at this point never will. Even so, I know I've used that emotion to access a place for writing on occasion.

It's probably good not to remember what occasion prompted this. Thank you for sharing it though. As with all of the poems, I feel as if I'm taking a real time journey through another's life, through another's eyes. The fact that it's the past let's you reconstruct it for us in the best way you recall why letting interpret the work too, as if we were there too.

Jim Murdoch said...

This is why we need readers, Vito. To make the connections we didn’t. You’d think with a little distance I might make more of these old poems but they carry such emotional weight that it’s impossible for me to intellectualise. I read them and I just ache. I couldn’t even tell you what I’m aching for. I just ache. Some things have that effect. Like your feeling “written off”. I don’t know how long ago that was but in time I’m sure all you’ll be left with is this same sort of hard-to-define ache. It’s at time like this I think about the law of diminishing returns. The second sandwich is never as good as the first. My time with B. was as good as it was ever going to be. Do I have regrets? Loads! But you asked me to be more specific I’m not sure I could be because I’m not sure how better this could’ve been. Worse, yes. Oh, I could’ve ballsed things up royally.

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