NOW DO YOU UNDERSTAND WHAT
HEAVEN IS IT IS THE SURROUND OF THE LIVING
James Merrill

You’d expect a certain view from such a mirror—
clearer
than one which hangs in the entry and decays.
I gaze
past my reflection toward other things:
bat wings,
burnt-gold upon blue, which decorate the wall
and all
those objects collected from travels, now seen
between
its great gold frame, diminished with age:
a stage
where, still, the supernatural corps-de-ballet
displays
its masquerade in the reflected light.
At night,
I thought I’d see the faces of the dead.
Instead,
the faces of the ghosted silver sea
saw me.

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This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 31 Number 5, on page 46
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