The face in the mirror this morning was not mine, perhaps it was that of my grandparents, all I never met, having only old and faded pictures that vaguely resemble the mirror’s face.
It might be my parents, both dead before I found them only yearbook pictures and just possible a vague similarity to the face that i see in the mirror each day.
I tried to ask the mirror who it was hiding in the glass, but like most mirrors it was silent, a sad reflection of its ilk, so the old man peering out will continue to be someone that I have never met.
I carry my past in a monk’s bag that rests on my shoulder.
In it you will find my history, or bits of it, names I have been given, given up, memories of childhood, pictures of my parents who I never knew, aged in my mind from the photos in yearbooks, all that I have of them..
I still have room in my bag, perhaps more room than time.
How many times have we heard someone intone the never ending expression: “in the best interests of the child.”
Never, I imagine, has anyone asked the child what he or she thought was in their best interest, for children, we assume, cannot know what is in their interest.
A child would gladly tell you but an adult would often disagree, anchored to the memory of their parents always deciding what was in their best interest whether or not they agreed, and assuming that is how things always ought to be.
The news, online and on paper, is replete with stories about adult children moving back in with their parents, whether because of the pandemic, or other circumstances, always expecting they will have a room at the ready.
Perhaps it is why we chose to have no spare rooms, sort of a preemptive strike against an ill-conceived return.
But as my cohort ages, I wonder if all too soon those news sources online, since papers will likely be gone, will feature stories about older parents moving in with their children, rooms available or not.
There are nights when the song of a single cricket can pull you away from sleep. She says that she has heard that not all Angels have wings and neither of them is sure how you would know if you met a bodhisattva. He searches the mail every day, for a letter from unknown birth parents but none of the credit cards he ought to carry offers to rebate his dreams. Each night they lie back pressed to back and slip into dreams. She records hers in the journal she keeps with the pen, by the bed. He struggles to recall his and places what shards he can in the burlap sack of his memory.
First Published in Where Beach Meets Ocean, The Block Island Poetry Project, 2013