There are many superstitions associated with mirrors. My favorite is that vampires are not reflected in a mirror. W.H. Auden said that a culture is known by its woods. I say a culture can just as well be known by its mirrors. Perhaps Narcissus did not love himself after all. Perhaps he merely was fascinated by the physics of mirrors. Emily Dickinson wrote one-thousand-seven-hundred-seventy-five poems. Not one of them is about looking in a mirror. In the beginning, God did not know what he looked like. He created the universe to see himself, his full-length funhouse mirrors. I’ve never understood the poetry of John Ashbery. Especially obscure is Self-portrait in a Convex Mirror. So, do you have any reflections on this poem, Solonche? Just don’t let on that it’s all nothing but smoke and mirrors.
The first color of the sky is blue. Invisible blue is the last color of the sky. Which is the wiser, the lion or the eagle? The eagle is, for the lion knows nothing of the sky. With a clear night sky, you will see millions of stars. And every one has its own clear night sky. Because Lucifer and his angels were rebellious, they were expelled. As they fell to earth, they took their last deep breath of sky. The poet said, “Do not bury me in the ground.” The poet said, “Bury me in the sky.” The beginning of the world was water. The end of the world will be the sky. So, Solonche, are you quite satisfied? Yes. Enough of this mile-wide pie-in-the-sky.
God created many animals in the Garden of Eden. Adam’s favorite was the dog; Eve’s was the horse. My uncle liked enigmatic expressions. The best was I need to see a man about a horse. One of the slang words for heroin is horse. A bad dream is named for a female horse. In the Bible, it was lowly to sit upon an ass. That’s why a king would sit upon a horse. King Solomon imported them from Egypt in great numbers. He paid 150 shekels of silver for each horse. The poet must be one with the rhythm of the poem. Just as the rider must be one with the motion of the horse. So, Solonche, any last words to offer on this? It’s just another cart before another color of horse.
“The female of the bull” is how Samuel Johnson defined the cow. In Norse mythology, Ymir, father of the Giants, was fed four streams of milk by Audumla the cow. In Hindu belief, the feminine aspect of Brahma is known as the “melodious cow.” In the Bible, Yaweh demanded red, but the pagan sacrifice wanted a white cow. In Egypt, the goddess Isis was often depicted wearing the head and horns of a cow. There was an old man, and he had an old cow. And over the moon jumped the cow. So, Solonche, is there a moral to this ghazal? Yes. Take a deep breath. Relax. Don’t have a cow.
The last word in my dictionary is zymurgy. It is the chemistry of the fermentation of beer or wine. Hey Omar, who needs a loaf of bread? A book of verse? All we need, brother, is a full moon and a full flask of wine. Sometimes I want to think a clear thought and write a clear line. Sometimes I choose the clearest of clear white wine. Sometimes I want to sleep a deep sleep and dream a deep dream. Sometimes I choose the deepest of deep red wine. I will tell you what the best wine poem in the world is. It is Pablo Neruda’s glorious Ode to Wine. For instance, taste this: I like on the table, when we’re speaking, the light of a bottle of intelligent wine. So, Solonche, is there any more on the subject to be said? Only red to white, all right, and white to red, you’re dead.
J.R. Solonche has been publishing in magazines, journals, and anthologies since the early 70s. He is coauthor of Peach Girl: Poems for a Chinese Daughter (Grayson Books) and author of the forthcoming poetry volume Beautiful Day (Deerbrook Editions). He lives in the Hudson Valley with his wife, the poet Joan I. Siegel, and ten cats, at least two of which are poets.