Mirror Stage by Misha Ponnuraju

A baby does not know she exists

on the surface of this green earth

until she finds a mirror.

The notion of “I” blooms within her

as she confronts the brown of her eyes,

until her plump arms rise and fall

in accordance to her own inner

choreography. A baby approaches herself,

presses forehead and lips and hands

against the glass, expecting

the touch of flesh, warmth.

A child does not know she exists

separately from the rest until

she confronts the blue that she

cannot swim in, eyes unlike hers,

until she notices that her skin

does not have the shine of pearl

as others do. She wants both pearl

and blue — to hold close what feels

soft in rough hands. A child

knows what it is to be wanted:

it is what she will leave

at the feet of a another

girl: wonder and kindness

and the inability to see

beyond the opaque of

blue and pearl. It looks so pretty

at school, and on the TV too.

A child approaches

the coveted pearl,

presses lips and hands against

the glass screen of the TV.

It is cold, as remembered.

A girl will begin to recognize

parts of herself in her beloved,

who reflects her own of marbled

skin. She will reach out

and touch the soft, wrinkled browns

of her beloved, taste herself in her folds,

allowing trimmed fingers to feel the tangles

of her beloved’s thick hair. How could she

have hated the sight of sprouting hairs,

signs of life and flesh — how could she

have disdained this color

which becomes honey in sunlight?

She will kiss this reflection

and it will feel so warm.


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