Mirage from Issue 49
Forever young, we toast my mother, 78 today.
She laughs, slides her wineglass back across
the sunlit tablecloth: Forever again, anyway!
Yesterday a stranger gave me a back-handed compliment.
I was downtown in an elevator with a well-dress manㅡ
young, maybe 30ㅡ who kept staring. I wasn’t worried,
but it made me feel self-conscious. Then he said,
“Excuse me, I know this may sound strange,
but you must have been a beautiful girl.”
My brother-in-law smiles, cockes his head:
What’s back-handed about that?
He didn’t say “You must have been beautiful”ㅡ
as if you weren’t beautiful now.
What did you say? My husband asks her.
I told him he made my day!
What else could I say? It was so peculiar.
She smiling, silver, drinking wine,
squinting at the windowㅡ winter garden, storm clouds split,
glory fanning out across open fields.
She’s puzzling over a mirage:
straining to see an old woman, real as rock
behind the shimmering figure of a girl.