She found the mirror hidden in the back
of a dusty curio shop and fell in love.
Its proportions and dignified antiquity
made it the perfect piece
in which to admire herself.
The ancient proprietor watched her
as she gazed at her pretty face
in the glass.
He knew by her dress she couldn’t afford it,
for though his premises were dusty and jumbled
all his treasures were just that –
treasures of impeccable craftsmanship,
venerable age and unimpeachable provenance.
But he had been waiting for her;
he knew she was the one
meant for that mirror –
the only possible rightful owner.
When she turned and asked the price
he gave a charming smile.
“For you, a special bargain,”
and named a sum ridiculously low.
And, as was fitting, she then bought it,
and arranged for its delivery the next day.
The old man, having fulfilled his part
in this unfolding,
smiled again as she thanked him,
waving as she left the shop.
She hung the mirror in the hallway off the parlor,
a place to show it off but yet convenient
for her preening,
and every time she passed it she would stop
just for a moment to admire herself
framed in its gilded oak.
Her guests were all astonished,
whispering behind their hands,
wondering how she’d found
the wherewithal to buy it.
After awhile she noticed something odd
about the mirror; rather, something odd
in how it reflected.
Her face would seem to waver slightly
as she stood before it,
almost melting, fusing with the silvered glass.
She wondered if her eyes were going
so she had them checked, but no –
her eyes were fine – it was the mirror.
Not too long after her eyes were pronounced perfect
she was smoothing scarlet lipstick
on her pretty pouty mouth before the mirror.
When she was done she flashed herself a smile
and then the mirror spoke her name.
She fainted dead away onto hard wood,
waking sometime later with a nasty bump.
Shaking, she stood before the glass all disbelieving,
as if daring it to speak her name again.
No sound came forth.
She decided she had been deluded, overtired;
her nerves had always been her weakest point.
Day after day she paused before the mirror,
glancing into silent glass and smiling.
She began regaling friends,
telling tales on herself and her imagining
she owned a talking mirror.
One night she came home late,
a bit the worse for wear after a party.
She stumbled down the hallway to the mirror;
defiantly she stared into its smoothness,
chanting “Mirror mirror on the wall,
I’m the fairest of them all.”
To her horror the glass rippled
like waves buffeted by the wind.
Two wrinkled, sharp-clawed hands
shot forth from it,
grabbing her by the neck.
The last thing she remembered
before everything went black
was a guttural voice replying,
“Yes, you are, and no doubt tender too.”
RC deWinter’s poetry is widely anthologized, notably in New York City Haiku (New York Times, February 2017), Cowboys & Cocktails (Brick Street Poetry, April 2019), Nature In The Now (Tiny Seed Press, August 2019), Coffin Bell Two (March 2020), in print in 2River, Adelaide, Event, Genre Urban Arts, Gravitas, In Parentheses, Kansas City Voices, Meat For Tea: The Valley Review, Night Picnic Journal, Prairie Schooner and Southword among many others and appears in numerous online literary journals.