Portrait, with paradise receding in the background

~ after “Narcisa and the Two Mirrors,” Armando Valero

Sometimes when you speak or sing,
it is sunlight flashing semaphore-like

from the surface of mirrors. It is thirteen
hummingbirds hovering for the promise of nectar—

They make a jeweled necklace more brilliant
than the brocade of peonies on a woman’s dress.

Sometimes when you think you’re alone, another
face floats on the surface of the one you bring

to the mirror; perhaps, the ghost of who you’ve been.
Or the lover you hope to meet, who is also looking

into a mirror, trying to divine how a whole
world curls around the bodies of fish

rounding each blue bend in the river; how
like music or the sight of tears, there are

things that have moved you without leaving
their trace on skin. And yet the hummingbird

says it’s enough that you can bear parts
of the world smaller than a dewdrop or pearl.

You can consider the moon’s invisible satchel
and its upraised handle, its offer to fill

or pry open; to empty, arrive, travel again,
to carry in its folds only what you can.

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