The human soul is a hall of mirrors
of indefinite extent, so that
the speed of light becomes significant.
This afternoon, when you set the table,
the rebounding image of your mother came
and laid the napkins by the plates.

Sound is carried, too: your father’s voice
rounded the last corner, bounced off the wall,
and left through your open mouth
when you said, “Maybe, but I don’t think so.”

The images fade, but never disappear.
A pale translucent copy of your great-grandmother
paces back and forth in sequential inversion.
And what of the feral ancestor from forest or savanna
who awakens in the middle of the night,
hair bristling, sheened with sweat, to the terror of being?

Today, crossing the field,
when I held the hand of my small son and said,
“Look at the deer,” I found myself beckoning
to two or three full-grown great-grandchildren
ninety years on.

December 4, 1989

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