The Candle in the Mirror by Mary Simmons

The Candle in the Mirror

Every good ghost story begins with a girl
in the dark. I count to ten,
but I do not close my eyes,
because I do not intend to find you.
The bath is still running.
The tile is littered with wet lilac petals.

The mirror swims in candles, a thousand
fires worth a dollar twenty-five, dying
faster than I am. I watch myself
dying each day, each of us dying each day.
The wax sputters. The bath is still running.
I am solving your riddles

on the back of my eyelids.
Parliaments of owls
melt down the fogged window.
I could reach into each beak,
draw out each handful of fire,
burn the feathers and call this creation.

Listen: this is the naming of corvids.
This is the morning of bones.
And I say, listen: there is nothing
but faces that do not belong to us.
The bath fills with glass, dripping
between my fingers, faucet leak

lullaby from the other room.
What is a woman if not a ghost?
What is a ghost if not a processional
of candles? We chant their names
in the dark. The bath overflows.
Wallpaper drinks, as though this is love.


Mary Simmons is a queer writer from Cleveland, Ohio. She is a poetry MFA candidate at Bowling Green State University, where she is the managing editor for Mid-American Review. She has work in or forthcoming from tiny wren lit, Moon City Review, Yalobusha Review, Whale Road Review, and others.

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