The Heart and the Mirror

The woman returns to herself;
Sitting to disarm with stroke and sweep.
Her likeness is ghoulish in a glassy pool.
Stained lips part in the half light:
“This is all I am”.

Terrible portal. She pours herself inside
But her soul is dust and paper,
Breath-weak by this investment, day upon day.
Quiet weals darken and settle on her heart;
And she holds the knife.

It will not accept these hollows;
These pallid planes, where once there
Rose the flush of nights,
Spent tangled and alive;
The burn of skin on skin.

Sunken eyes plead; too bright,
Too clear they seem.
Trembling and full, they
Implore the past to rise and
Deliver her from a life too thin.

Hope she nurses like a child of her own,
Shaped for and from him
Until it is he she carries
In her chest; locked and unmoving
And growing with the days.

She could tear a way out
If she wished, somehow, but is tremulous
And naked as a sickly heart.
She nestles deeper; soft darkness
Is a refuge which never betrays.

A candle has long since faltered
But smoke curls upwards still,
In gentle arabesque; an angel
Or a small, velvet soul,
Soft like a fingertip trail.

The ache to be enswathed,
Held pendant in a sea of him,
Leaves hunger too sharp to feed.
Heart-cracked and empty in the furrow of night,
She smiles and further fades.

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