Only the Mirror Changes

Only the mirror changes, showing vibrant orange wings instead
of creeping, hungry green. How vain is the heart that rolls the past

into an impotent caterpillar? What makes the butterfly think the
metamorphosis is complete? I tell myself I am distanced from you,

from that night, from that abrasion of skin upon skin. I am surprised
I can remember. I am surprised by the precision of detail, by the absence

of theatre. I am surprised I have the same eyes. Somewhere behind
a closed door is the opera of sunshine, where time does not exist

or self. Where you can step back into a sentence, where you can reach
out and feel again, where moments look different in each mirror

and you can stand before the one in which you smile. That night
still wears the August moon. I am surprised you have the same eyes.

42 thoughts on “Only the Mirror Changes

    1. PS. For the first time, my anti-virus flagged this page as having possible threats.. not sure if it has to do with the on-click ads. just thought you should know.

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  1. Deeply philosophical! ❤ Especially love; “Somewhere behind a closed door is the opera of sunshine, where time does not exist or self.” 😊

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  2. I’m plucking out these gorgeous nuggets and enjoying them thoroughly, outside of the poem:

    “showing vibrant orange wings instead”

    “Somewhere behind
    a closed door is the opera of sunshine”

    That being said, this is clearly a tragic covering-over of a rape or some other violation/change/loss.

    Powerful, powerful writing.

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  3. Ah, I love that dichotomous reflection of the middle and the end: “I am surprised I have the same eyes”/”…you have the same eyes”. And the title brings it all together so well — it’s beautifully done.

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        1. Yes of course! I was intrigued by how the reader takes the poem to new directions.. I was very far from Wilde and Dorian Grey as I wrote this- thinking just of life itself and change or the idea of change – during a visit to a place where I grew up!

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  4. The metronome sweeping through this is gorgeously exact as the mind ticks off its arrestments and wonders, its entries and exits. What if love and not time is the Heraclitan river, so that events are ever the same and only the heart-mirrors we use to look back and examine them change? If that is what your mirror is for … Precision is important when knowing the heart, and you nail it: transformation is not what we thought and heaven isn’t paradise but a found bed. Or is not. Whatever that is, you account for it in sinuous glory.

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  5. That’s an amazing opening, Rajani, with the mirror/butterfly/caterpillar metaphor! I love the movement from insect to human/personal metamorphosis: the ‘abrasion of skin upon skin’ and the ‘opera of sunshine’ behind closed doors.
    The lines about moments looking different in each mirror and standing before the one in which you smile remind me of Derek Walcott’s poem ‘Love After Love’.

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    1. Was fascinated by that poem you mentioned, Kim. Thanks so much. This came to me as I recently visited the city of my youth- and looked upon it with a new perspective. Things change, and yet they don’t.

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  6. “What makes the butterfly think the
    metamorphosis is complete?” Does it matter? I hope the butterfly doesn’t retain the caterpillar’s thoughts and experiences and is freed to move forward. Of course, that is not my experience, just a wish for any possible afterlife! But I have an other one that your poem made me wonder at, because I believe your narrator’s experience (indeed, I wish I had written this). And that is the experience of seeing a progression of Susan’s in me, like Magritte’s “Nude Descending a Staircase,” where the person’s know they are related but don’t feel they are the same person at all. (No, I’m not schizophrenic or split-personality in any way.)

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    1. I agree, that kind of detachment can be only a wish! A good one, though! Oh I do feel that way.. that the past happened to someone else.. a little bit like me! But the truth is we keep changing the way we look at things as we grow- the thing itself doesn’t change, how much ever we wish it does.

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    1. “drive-by reflections of the past”- I just love that usage- am going to be borrowing it often in conversations, I think!!! And of course those reflections will look different each time depending on so many factors! Thanks Rob!

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  7. We humans do fret a lot about life as though there is some answer we have yet to discover, some meaning that will satisfy us. For some reason we think we are different from all other living things but we are not. Our problem is not in staying alive but not being able to use the time we have wisely. We are thus destructive and wasteful and disrepectful of every other living thing…a bit of a failure really.

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  8. Behind that opera door of sunshine. It is indeed surprising that time does not exist. But then isn’t thst the true aspect of yesterdays.
    Brilliant write Rajani

    Much💜love

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  9. “I am surprised I have the same eyes. Somewhere behind
    a closed door is the opera of sunshine, where time does not exist

    or self. Where you can step back into a sentence, where you can reach
    out and feel again, where moments look different in each mirror

    and you can stand before the one in which you smile. That night
    still wears the August moon. I am surprised you have the same eyes.”

    It is surprising to find we have the same eyes, no matter what they have seen.

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