"Whoever Goes To The Mirror
Never Comes Back"
- Hans Jürgen von Winterfeld
Forty three years ago a poem beginning with those lines
was published in Botteghe Oscure. Today I lifted the volume down,
shabby old Italian paper, soft like a minor actress murdered in the rain
and read those wonderful terrifying words.
I remember that time after time I and all like me
(I mean you, I can't exist without you,
can't be without that music) walked down the hallways in vanity
and stared into the all-too-bright contradiction in the glass
and that image became me and went on its way
that had been my way and is just its way now,
a logical regression into the catastrophes of optics
where all the lines of sight converge in hell.
I left myself in the glass and found you there
on your way to an identical disaster, your eyes passed through me
(because there was nothing left of me) and studied the ruin
identical with your beautiful face. Then you too turned
and all of us retreat into the company of those
who have looked once at their faces and turned utterly away.