The gallery of mirrors
Away from the rattle of carts and the cursing of their drivers,
if you go by the street of three friends
and the alley of the shining light,
you come to a square, little visited,
and a palace whose steps lead to a great room,
where the ceiling hangs with cannon-smoke
and ships ride the wind to port,
and through two chambers, you will find us,
our silver spotted with black,
our stare frozen.
Between each of us is a window -
mirrors and windows on both sides of our long gallery;
the ceiling is gold, the floor is diamonds of marble,
cherubs float in the stillness,
in a game of excess and slow withering.
But when we were new, we refracted
and sparkled like jewels at a wedding.
'Though I am widowed, just widowed
my gentle lord, I love you.
I love the music that you make,
the wild changes of your soul.'
We were at ease to reflect the grace of life
to tremble in the music of choirs
whose five lines moved into perfect enharmony,
like steel swords sparking on the spinning stone.
'My gentle lady, from black to white,
I love the perfume and the rank in you,
the temptation of your purity,
the heaven and the hell.'
We were unafraid till, later, that lady led another man
in quick shadows past us
and we heard the gasp of love held in,
to not awake the servants
who might run to their lord,
hunting in the hills, where the birds wheel, cawing.
Someone must have whispered.
In the night when the secret rooms went quiet,
we saw our lord and another and another,
in slow motion they lifted the catch.
We heard a drowsy man awake to die,
and the last scream of that lady.
In later months that lord came back
with another lady,
but there was no heart in him.
Each call to prayer has an urgent ring
like a shout from a street far away;
the candles gather dust in their wells,
and the sun is a whisper of yellow
that echoes round our gallery -
our gallery of mirrors.