I am silver and exact. I have no preconceptions.
Whatever I see I swallow immediately
Just as it is, unmisted by love or dislike.
I am not cruel, only truthful-
The eye of the little god, four cornered.
Most of the time I meditate on the opposite wall.
It is pink, with speckles. I have looked at it so long
I think it is a part of my heart. But it flickers.
Faces and darkness separate us over and over.
Now I am a lake. A woman bends over me,
Searching my reaches for what she really is.
Then she turns to those liars, the candles or the moon.
I see her back, and reflect it faithfully.
She rewards me with tears and an agitation of hands.
I am important to her. She comes and goes.
Each morning it is her face that replaces the darkness.
In me she has drowned a young girl, and in me an old woman
Rises toward her day after day, like a terrible fish.
From the beginning of the poem, where we find out that the mirror is "unmisted" and "swallows" everything, to the end of the poem, where a girl is drowning and a fish is rising, this poem revolves around water. Here, water is both a reflecting surface and an actual lake. So, water, in this poem, is both clear and mysterious. * Line 2: While this line doesn't explicitly address water, it uses the word "swallow" as a metaphor for reflecting. The word makes us think of water, which can itself swallow things, taking them beneath its surface. * Line 3: Again, a water-related term is used as a metaphor. "Unmisted" stands in here for "unchanged." * Lines 10-11: Here we find out that the mirror is a lake. It's a cool image, shifting from the silver of a mirror to the silver of clear water. Then we hear that a woman is searching the reaches of the water for what she really is; if you've ever spent some time peering into water, you'll know that it can be mesmerizing like this. The mythical Greek figure Narcissus even died looking into his reflection in a pond. * Line 14: The tears are another form of water, and the woman is physically interacting with the water of the lake by stirring it up with her hands. She's taking her frustration out on the water. * Lines 17-18: This drowning and rising up is, yet again, a metaphor. With the young girl drowning, and the old woman rising, it seems most likely that the water is a metaphor for time, or aging. Also note that because the old woman rises up "like" a terrible fish, this part of the line is a simile Color, Light, and Darkness
In talking about mirrors, the sense of sight is pretty important. So, of course, colors and darkness figure into this poem. From silver to pink to moonlight, this poem uses colors and light to give the reader images as they read about a mirror. * Line 1: The color in this line gives us the major clue that – ah ha! – the speaker is not a person, but a personified mirror. Since this is the first line, we think of the color silver throughout the poem whenever we think of the mirror. * Lines 7-8: So the mirror is silver, but now we get the image of the pink, speckled wall, which the mirror reflects most of the time. This pink, speckled image is less exotic and exciting than the mirror's silvery surface. But then in line 8, we find out that this speckled pink wall is like part of the mirror's heart – and hearts often make us think of the color red. * Line 9: In this line, we get our first glimpse of darkness, which separates the mirror from the pink wall it believes is part of its heart. The mirror also mentions that faces play a part in this separation. What does this mirror feel about human faces if it sees them on the same plane as darkness? * Line 13: We hear a lot about darkness in this poem, but it is only appropriate, in a poem about reflections, that we'd see what is lighting up the reflection. However, we only hear that, when it comes to reflections, candles and the moon are liars, that...