The Virgin Mirror

By Claire Bateman

After the handmaidens, blindfolded and proceeding by touch alone, have
twined the masses of string across its enormous silvered surface, then the
mirror-keeper, also blindfolded, sets a lit match to the central knot.

When they sense that the whole skein is ablaze, they bear the burning glass
to the lake’s edge, and lower it into the icy shallows where the mirror-keeper
strikes a single blow, shattering it along every line at once.

Then they lift it in its frame from the water to tap and test its face with their
tongs, plucking out the fragments, swaddling them individually in silk to be
dispersed throughout the land.

Now instead of making pilgrimage in order to not look into the virgin mirror,
each family can cherish a shard to not look into without leaving home.


Claire Bateman is the author of WONDERS OF THE INVISIBLE WORLD forthcoming from 42 Miles Books, and eight other poetry books. She has been awarded Fellowships from the NEA, the Tennessee Arts Commission, and has received the New Millennium Writing Award (twice) and two Pushcart Prizes. She has taught at the Greenville Fine Arts Center, Clemson University and various conferences, including Bread Loaf and the Bloch Island Poetry Fesitval. She is also a visual artist.

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