In the Mirror Is a Stranger

by Lee Krauss


so, you look in it and ball your fists,
because you know you should
recognize the reflection,
know the atlas of your head, the crease marks, crevices,
and you should be familiar with what is your mum’s
and what isn’t, what shadows of generations
fall with your eyelids.

But this is no place for poetry, and now
there are teeth marks on your skin
scales that run like tiny tire marks,
tracing the terrible recognition that
you are familiar with nothing about your physical form
except the uncertainty of it.

A body is a home, until it isn’t—
until the form you find yourself in frequently
feels like a stranger’s house
you’ve been forced to rent—
it doesn’t match the ways your thoughts
beat, and the way that the drum
of your heart believes it should be.

So, you turn from the mirror,
pick up a brush and stroke the bristles
that makes more sense to you than the hairs on your scalp.
Your paint is every poem you’ve taken
off its coat rack, every feeling that brought you
to your knees, every prayer on them,
and with each stroke you create a portrait;

until you have something you can turn to, and recognize the reflection;
until the tiny tire marks on your skin are nothing but paint to wash off.


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