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Mirrors at 4 a.m.

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You must come to them sideways
In rooms webbed in shadow,
Sneak a view of their emptiness
Without them catching
A glimpse of you in return.
 
The secret is,
Even the empty bed is a burden to them,
A pretense.
They are more themselves keeping
The company of a blank wall,
The company of time and eternity
 
Which, begging your pardon,
Cast no image
As they admire themselves in the mirror,
While you stand to the side
Pulling a hanky out
To wipe your brow surreptitiously.

Charles Simic, “Mirrors at 4 a.m.” from Walking the Black Cat. Copyright © 1996 by Charles Simic. Reprinted by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
Source: Walking the Black Cat (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 1996)
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Mirrors at 4 a.m.

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