Carol Alexander, “Girl before a Mirror”

orange line

Girl before a Mirror

Her nose begins
to be out of joint.
He’s called her beauty,
but made a mock of symmetry—
the parting of the veil
a duple screen

like two trains running
from the Gare Saint-Lazare
both east and west;
in the background
red patterns of migraine,
and the bright moon mask
of the saltimbanques.
Mouth kisses firm mouth,
the painted and the obscure,
profile and full face of desire.

The canvas sings
of the viscera,
sacred heifer to his bull.
In a jar beside the commode
steep tears of brine.
Should not think, but be.

Light falls away
like chaff from wheat.
Regret for the crust,
the bowl of cabbage soup;
he will drink absinthe
while her stomach growls.

The floor is littered
with splotches of pique
in the cold light from the lunette.
She will pick up the jagged waste
of herself, clean the brushes
with turpentine
and just for a moment,
think about death.

When he leans from the window
commanding his shard of street,
girl in the mirror
studies with sweet chagrin
the purple specter
poised to make her blush.
What does that lidless eye perceive?

She mustn’t look too hard.
Mademoiselle won’t find it there
and even if she does,
it will not be there at dawn.



Girl Before a Mirror by Pablo Picasso

About Marie-Thérèse Walter

Carol Alexander’s poems have appeared in a variety of journals and anthologies. Her most recent work appears in The New Verse News, Split Rock Review, Clementine Poetry Journal, and Caesura. Alexander’s chapbook, Bridal Veil Falls, was published by Flutter Press (2013).


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