Sunday, February 6, 2011

the coldest day of the year

I COULD BE in Nome right now, for all anyone knows, folding origami butterflies. I’m so alone I could be on another continent even, or on an island in Indonesia. I’m so cold I could be light years away.

     I’m standing here looking at a mirror, trying to convince myself that I’m not the face I see. You’re not the backward face, I tell myself, you see on this rectangle of glass. My reflection just looks back at me, like me but in reverse. I pick parsley from between the two front teeth I see moving toward me as I lean forward.
     You’re the only person you never see, I begrudgingly acknowledge, tapping the nose on the face in the mirror, my mind blossoming from the crown of my head. You think your face is one way when it’s actually exactly the opposite, at least as far as everyone else and cameras are concerned, but so convincing is the illusion, you mistake the one for the other, the reflection for the thing reflected. Remember that woman who claimed someone pinned her down and carved hate words into her face? She’d fabricated the whole thing. She’d carved those words into her face. But she carved them backward because she was looking in a mirror when she did it. It never dawned on her that letters appear backward in mirrors. Someone had to tell her: you’re backward from what you think you are.
     It’s three o’clock in the morning. I’m freezing. I could be in Phnom Penh I’m so far away.