Guest Poet Paula Grenside

           Whole Day's Mirror

                      In the morning
                      the young woman licks
                      sleep away from plum lips,
                      the tip of her tongue
                      crawls the contours
                      of a smile
                      reflected in
                      smooth mirror -

                      In the afternoon
                      she brushes a shadow 
                      of powder glow on cheekbones,
                      with sharpened lip liner
                      she curves up
                      mouth corners
                      in a smile flaming
                      sun- flooded mirror.

                      In the evening
                      the woman artfully combs
                      curls on the temples to frame
                      mascara-thick lashes,
                      adds two strata 
                      of peach lipstick,
                      dare not smile
                      for fear the mirror cracks.

                      At night
                      she squints at her face,
                      finds make-up fusses all details
                      in clownish distortions.
                      She washes the mask away,
                      nibbles pale lips,
                      smiles acceptance
                      at quicksilver wrinkles
                      in the mirror -

October, 2000

Paula Grenside's Questions:

The poem aims at showing how hard it is to accept ageing and the continuous effort to mask age signs, deceive oneself. The subject is  -She-, but   I would like to know whether male readers too recognize themselves in it.

Does the mirror, present in all stanzas, acquires the symbolic meaning I mean to attach to it?

Thank you.

Small Dialogue

You know, dreams do not exist, he told her. 
Yes, I do, now that I see the bed, a savage 
beast that strops its teeth on sleep 
as nails carve names on sheets - 

You know, death does not exist - he added. 
Yes, I do, now that I am dead. My gowns are 
in the drawers; I only miss the scent of the late 
rose you pin on the lace at night, she whispered.

You know, love does... - He paused and stared
at the sky's hem slipping off the window.

October, 2000

Paula Grenside's Questions:

Does the poem sound incomplete?

-Would it help add a further stanza, or does the suspended statement work better as the reader can infer and does not find the obvious patter he expects?

- What emotions, if any, does the poem evoke?

The Albany Poetry Workshop