Federal style, two small chips
in the gilt frame, found at a flea market
in the Eisenhower ’50s.
19th century American lovingly refinished,
loving gift of my mother:
It’s too good for you, so take care of it!
Some winter mornings here
the taut lit face of Ethel Rosenberg,
or the ecstatic face of Blake,
punim of my 6-year-old grandmother,
arriving stunned and mute from Vilna,
her big sister Lena waiting,
who knew what was at stake.
Oh my fierce mother, sanding away
at the kitchen table protected by newspapers,
The Herald, The Forward, The Traveler,
her little brush, her jar of paste
preserving and inventing the past—
For today, half-conscious glimpse of myself
on my way out for a walk in February snow,
with a friend, or alone,
my blue woolen hat, my mirror smile…
Copyright © 2017 by Gail Mazur. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on February 28, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.
“I’m not usually conscious of glancing in the mirror daily on my way out the door, still sometimes I’m stopped by what I see there. The old mirror, reflecting its histories of aspiration, immigration, injustice—my family were Rosenbergs, too—and ecstasy, ‘arrested’ me one cold morning—and triggered ‘Hall Mirror.’”