002: What I Saw in the Baker’s Window

I wonder about my face. It’s something I’ve never observed.
Lucy told me once, “But you have mirrors in your house.” I said, “You’re crazy if you think what’s in that mirror is flesh and bone?”

And so, I wonder about things I have yet to see in the round, width-blown vision of my own eyes, which has never really observed the sun but has (vision has) an enormous experience with light. I have yet to see China. And the moon I simply can’t resolve.

As a child I saw myself in corners or spaces of thinking. What mirrors framed could be stunning and disappointing. What do you see when the light goes on and you compare what’s in the mirror to the nightbefore’s concoction when you watched yourself walking through an alley, when you heard yourself speaking in Hungarian in another room, when you leapt from the rooftop to rooftop and at the edge of a friend’s house at the bottom of the neighborhood and stretched yourself into the wind and flew into the clouds lit above in yellow by the moon?

I told Lucy: “I am a line and a circle.”

Lucy said, “Stop smiling like that.”

I said, “I didn’t know I was smiling.”

Poor Lucy.

Yesterday I had shorter legs. I stood as my mother had always wanted me to (or was it my father?): with my back straight and my eyes unblinking in the blinking eyes of the enemy who wanted me but couldn’t find the words to ask. I pressed a point and was made Queen. I measured myself by the marble statue of the Lonely Statesman rearing above a pool glittering with pennies and nickels. His stone fist is impossible to discompose. He once looked out onto a field where in the distance a country needed making and he would shape it and survive. A small brown bird stands on his fist and now he stares into the window of a bakery.

Where I stand watching his reflection and the reflection of the bird–the fist in the air, the eyes an accretion of purpose (as purpose must have gravity) or terror, his old frock coat opened just enough to suggest the dimensions of greatness and the pathetic imagination of the sculptor–with a bag of bread. In the corner of my eye, I see a tall woman. I want to keep my eyes on the statue. But she calls me, this image in this public mirror, this woman I’ve never seen, standing and watching. I have to look. For a moment, I imagine that she’s a stranger or that she’s returned from a trip that took years to complete because the ship was slow or the roads were poor, and that, in this mirror, as the others pass with their own bags, I’m seeing myself in actuality for the first time, which is, of course, impossible.

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