Covering the Mirrors
After a funeral, they were covered with black cloth,
some draped with shawls like a scalloped valance.
Leftover sewing scraps, wool, linen, synthetic,
anything to shroud the odd-shaped mirrors,
though sometimes a corner was exposed like a woman
whose ankle peeks forbidden from under a long skirt.
A mourner must shun vanity during shiva, focusing inward
but as a child I wondered if this were to avoid ghosts,
for don’t the dead take their time leaving?
One final check on the family.
I’m of a generation where grandparents disappeared,
great aunts with European accents,
rarely an explanation provided to us children.
My mother died much too young.
With a baby in arms I couldn’t bear to fling
that dark cloth over the glass.
After all she had come back from the dead so often,
even the doctors could not explain it.
Every time I looked in a mirror my mother gazed back.
I could never tell if she were trying to tell me something
or to take the baby with her.