The Mirror Betrayed
By: Benjamin Rose
The sudden breeze of a lost summer day
When the fires of August scorching have passed
And humid heat on the drought-stricken grass
Leaves the air heavy and hot with decay
Whispers to me of the things I might say
That time has filched from my trembling grasp,
Though no leaves turn as of yet to a red
Damascene shroud on the dying year’s bed.
And as the Spring with its temperate rains
Spurs in July the lightning-swift shower
Till in the forkèd blue sky we exchange
Afternoon lull for the rage of an hour,
So, in the Paradise left by the strain
Of sudden storms that gild the green tower
Of oak trees in an enamel of dew,
So, I have traded my innocence true.
Youth was not only the time of delight,
Of all things hopeful and yet to begin,
Nor of benediction. It was the light
Of my earnest soul unclouded by sin
And fear and hate, until untrammeled spite,
Sorrow, and envy serrated my grin
With lust for power and wont to despise,
The mask inlaid over vacuous eyes.
Into the vacuous mirror I stare
And all I behold, a demon of fear,
Skulks from the recesses of his dark lair
And I am ashamed to answer how near
The Jungian Beast encircles, ensnares
The nerves of my loins and my heart with sheer
Faustian lust to destroy and pervert
All natural law and earn the world’s curse.
Deep in my heart the rot you inspired
Leaves me the rebel eternal and damned.
So I have longed for my own wretched pyre
My bones to consume, and scatter like sand
These heartbroken limbs, this horrid desire
Virulent, vengeful towards woman and man,
And shatter the optic lie of this grave.
All that it offered, the mirror betrayed.
We hold our armistice, mailed in disgust.
Each in his fist grasps the withering knife,
And your face is lurid, eyes red as rust
Slashed with the self-riven mark of despite.
And you and I, O my Enemy, trust
One of us shall dispossess of his life,
The heart unconquerable riven in twain,
Will to depravity, will to refrain.
Benjamin Rose is a poet born and raised in the D.C. area and the author of The Road Of Glass and Gardens And Graves. His work has appeared in The Dillydoun Review, Beyond Words Literary Magazine, and Cathexis Northwest Press. He studies English Literature at the Catholic University of America (Class of 2023) and started studying Urdu in 2022.