OXIDANT | ENGINE : Issue 8
PATTERN IS A MIRROR WITH ENGINE
Mirrors do not add new light. They recycle it, the way they recycle my face.
I amplify my|my sadness gazing at my|my own sad face. Mirror neurons working from the outside in.
It is an inescapable horror, being seen. What begins as want ends at want again, ends never—
To make mirrors, silvering lays out the tain, the shine. A rough layer is smoothed with gristmills and grit. Enough etchings make a polish.
Enough seeing and the subject’s eyes blur, vision softens. A shine mars sight.
Catoptromancy is the art of divination by polished or reflective surfaces. Sometimes it is understood to refer to divination by mirrors only, as distinguished from divination by other shiny surfaces, such as a polished fingernail. ¹
Mirrors offer more seeing. A deepening of sight. My|My vision opens out, opens into the surfaces of things.
My|My open visions out, unsurfaces things.
Staring, I|I scry to believe in the world in layers.
A design trick: if the s|bject cannot afford the space they want, the s|bject can erect a wall of mirrors to give this impression. To open up a room, they say. They mean, to open out a room. Illusion and illumine, sister words.
To determine the best placement for a mirror, centuries ago the interior decorators of the le Pelletier de Saint-Fargeau residence in Paris stood against the wall and looked out the window, painting an exact replica of the landscape on the wall behind them. Mirrors a more perfect portrait. The outside in.
Every night my|my great-grandmother slathered her face in Vaseline. I|I imagine pillowcases stained clear. White stained to translucency.
Was this to protect her skin from ageing or to protect her skin from her own hands? What stains have I|I inherited?
There are many coping mechanisms, all of which involve covering. Cover my|my hands with cotton gloves. Cover my|my mirror with a scarf. Cover my|my face with concealer. A coverup: a crime.
Cover: to stain to opacity.
¹ Claire Fanger’s “Virgin Territory: Purity and Divine Knowledge in Late Medieval Catoptromantic Texts.” Aries, vol. 5, no. 2, July 2005, pp. 200–224. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1163/1570059054761659.=
Katherine Indermaur is the author of the chapbook Pulse (Ghost City Press, 2018). Her writing has appeared or is forthcoming in Alpinist, Bad Pony, Borderlands: Texas Poetry Review, CALAMITY, Entropy, Frontier Poetry, Ghost Proposal, Muse /A Journal, Poetry South, Sugar House Review, Voicemail Poems, and elsewhere. She holds an MFA from Colorado State University, where she won the 2018 Academy of American Poets Prize. She lives in Salt Lake City.