In the Night Mirror

by Rebecca Givens Rolland

Blunt the axe, carve out the weapon: make the war good.
What starts in the mind stays in the mind for good.

A pearl from my necklace, dropped string: you noticed
nothing. War on, you strung up promises, none good.

Middle of the night, packed bags: no man travels simply.
In spooled hours, I breathed you in: weightless, good.

Any echoless chamber culls sound: do you hear it?
Take this forest, its berries half poisonous, half good.

Meals you eat, bones you’ve nibbled make the war real.
Descending, I watch your eyes beckon, blink no good.

I’ve never found a riper flower than the one I offer you
late morning, stem on my fingernail, making good.

Twelve noon, and you’ve got no tears, only empires.
Guard its pain with your life: for now, the going’s good.

Past wounds won’t heal over without deception. Say
the cost aloud—I’ll shun the guardsman (it’s all good).

Talking, I notice strangers. Blameless, they stay silent.
Which man can you keep down: the wrong or good?

Last questions in the mind: how many men cleared?
How many women shattered? Spare blood still good?

For now, finality’s unmentionable: it’s still just spring.
Summer, a reasonable god, gathers whatever’s good.

Say: if we win the war, will I get clearance? Will bombs
make the spared man nervous, turn this wind good?

Sometimes, in the night mirror, I catch my face’s ghost.
Then it breaks, recalling nothing, not one edge good.

Tonight you’ll say I’ve got it wrong. I’ll hardly argue.
For now, I’m the mad one. Believe me: I’ve got it good.


Rebecca Givens Rolland’s first book of poems, The Wreck of Birds, won the 2011 May Sarton New Hampshire Poetry Prize. Recently her creative work has appeared in the Kenyon Review, Brain, Child, Fourteen Hills, and Cincinnati Review.

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