The False Mirror, et al

The False Mirror

The pupil dilates dead center
Black like a Gaeta olive
A contrast amidst a sphere of daze.

The retina opens, revealing its π
Of inner parts where behind the black mass
Lies a model blue sky—a color only found in dreams.
Where white clouds of stratus and cumulous subsume and
Overlap, their only hope is to hang in the balance—
Attempt to interface with the ink black spot—attempt to
Superimpose, to keep face.

Beige eyelids the color of sanded wooden tables
Curve wide and fold like lips of wet supple clay
Around an elliptical edge. They meet
At an ideal point like a fishhook at a glossy tear duct.

As you enter the eye, its walls curve inward like the terminal before a plane.
It’s opening up the view
For false conceptions, false impressions and false glimpses

Where the eye is not a dual lens spyglass
Or a two-way street.
Black pupils dominate, dream clouds traverse
And all this leads to poor eyesight and a ghostly
phantasmagoric rapport.

Disneyland

There’s this man—he’s lived on our block
As long as I can remember.
He’s gonna outlive us all. His wrinkles never change.
All of his girlfriends died
Sleeping in their houses.
So now he just walks around the neighborhood
Combing the same streets and sidewalks.

And every time I see him
He’s walking this black porky dog.
“How’s your dog today?” I say,
As I grasp for my keys in my pocket.
“Who him?” he points accusingly
To the mutt.
“I don’t know this dog.
He ain’t mine and I ain’t his.
Don’t give a shit about him. ”

I think he had a crush on me once
When I was much younger—back when I
Had pastel ribbons in my pigtails.
He kept raving about our trip to Disneyland.
He clearly had it all planned out.
“You and me—“ he’d say,
“We going to Disneyland someday,”
“How do you know so?” I’d say,
And he’d never answer,
Just mumble and bite his bottom lip.
I guess that was my answer.

Teabag Midnight Prescriptions

Our medicine cabinet had the cleanest dust-free counter tops,
in my dreams, that is.
I’d dream of late afternoons that I wait for while simultaneously
dread, filled with the teakettle of my quiet company
that I’ll never simply miss. Sometimes our fists would
sweat and we’d fight and I would plead to be alone, just as I am now.
I’m not crazy to you but delirious by you, not delirious to you just crazy by you.

I would say and he would flatter, drawing me in with that troubled passionate soul of his.

Did I ever tell you about the time….?
I can’t remember now. Well,
My boyfriend was the worm of his book, the leather of
his gang, the liquor flask he gulped to get by or kiss or walk away,
the smell of his ears, the brisk days of Fall; my boyfriend,
a fast- paced thriller and comic lover.

But that was way back when. Back to yesteryear.
At last, when stars turn opal violet blue, the moon starts its
rotation above
the grass near the electric blue & they just can tell— lust, lust, lust.

Sometimes my dog looks at me with his drooping face, like he knows.
like he saw it coming before I did. Crunching on kibble in the background,
he watches me attempt to absorb myself like a cotton swab. Completing
a series of actions, some meaningless celestial quest: populating my world
with tea bags, washcloths, honey jars, yoga mats. I installed 7 alarm clocks the other day, I don’t know why. If
one of them rings my dog will bark, signal to me it’s time to wake up.

I’ve cleaned out the refrigerator, and washed those old stains on that drab carpet. In my dream,
I tell myself I am my own pulsing clock, to wake from my slumber. And now, once I
do, our medicine cabinet is the filthiest compartment I ever saw.

Brooklyn Backyards In Summer

Sun hits bleached grass, balding in places amid black fire escapes.
Children prance around in three-walled gardens.
Frank Sinatra sings from someone’s back window across the way
And a woman sits with one leg out the window, brushing wet hair.

Children prance around in three-walled gardens.
Barbequed chicken and roasted corn wafts through 3:40 in the afternoon.
And a woman sits with one leg out the window, brushing wet hair.
The Spanish eat empanadas, drink lime mojitos; agnostic whites down Vegan brownies.

Barbequed chicken and roasted corn wafts through, 3:40 in the afternoon.
Trees bristle in the still air and whistle like toothbrushes shuffling between teeth.
The Spanish eat empanadas, drink lime mojitos; agnostic whites down Vegan brownies.
Three backyards over, there’s me, with sticky thighs and a half-upturned grin.

Trees bristle in the still air and whistle like toothbrushes shuffling between teeth.
Frank Sinatra sings from someone’s back window across the way.
Three backyards over, there’s me, with sticky thighs and a half-upturned grin.
Sun hits bleached grass, balding in places amid black fire escapes.

Lost Cat

We have lost our cat.
Temporarily,
We hope.

We have looked in the cupboards,
Bathtubs
And sinks.
Under beds
And bookshelves,
Closets too.
Everywhere a cat would think.

Our day has been disturbed
And now it is raining.
She’s bound to come back
With her little pouch of a belly,
Her tainted tabby fur,
So slender and knowing,
Always looking to explore.

I was reading a book,
All set to watch a movie.
But now I’ll have some eggs and grits
And just think as I look infinitely into my plate
How much I would hate if she never came back.

This feeling of longing and imagining
Plays like a record
Perfectly rehearsed in my head:
We call her name,
We lose all hope,
We turn back around.
And there she is
Perched on a window sill,
Licking her paw in a chair.

I have butterflies in my gut
Fluttering with iridescent worry.
I have lost my cat.
I still have two others.
But what are they
Without her?

It’s always that way with dishware,
Your favorite cup and saucer will crash and splinter
From the countertop, you’re wondering
How precariously positioned it was in the first place
And if it’s possible to glue it back together.

But she’s my most-loved cat.
I would give up all my movies and dishware
To have her back today.
I will sit and wait
On her usual spot on the sofa,
Like a worried mum
Waiting patiently, confusion and guilt
Knitting inside my jaw.

She will saunter into the room,
Her black-tipped tail following
Loyally like a boyfriend behind her.
We are calling her name and whistling.
She will see me before I see her,
Leaping up beside me as she always does,
Her eyes smiling and I can hear the start of her faint resonant purr,
While my hand brushes her head to give her a pet.

My cat is back.
Or she’s not.

Lily Lopate
Age 17, Grade 12
Berkeley Carroll School
Gold Key

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