wheelhouse archive

Issue 6, Spring/Summer 2008

by Arlene Ang

First thing it does is
catch her reflection. It is faithfully cruel
in the way silver becomes a bullet.
Her makeup could have been
in its fifties. Dislike for herself camouflages
who she really is. The cigarette
between her lips is the most physical
entity in the car. There’s a bag of groceries,
too as if she is running away—
a girl again picking at scabs
on her knees to avoid her reflection
in the bus window. And now
her hands are feeding
a rot of wrinkles. The mirror,
angled towards seeing the road
over her shoulder, doesn’t include them
in the view. Even her face
comes and goes.
Does it make a difference
that the lorry gathering speed a mile behind
belongs to the future?
The rearview mirror exists only
in the present tense. It has no remembrance,
no roots, no one to identify
its remains. After the impact,
there’s nothing more to report. Its eye
is shattered. Once its interest
in the surrounding world has been taken over
by crushed metal, the silver
loses its essence of self in the body
of a dead woman.