John Tranter: The Bedroom Mirrors

An alarm clock plots its
opportunity to shock. Spare
personalities droop among
moths in the upright grave.

Here is the mask-testing
apparatus, and a portrait
locked inside the glass
mouthing something important.

Outside the curtain, sunlight
seems to be struggling. Soon
the house is empty again.
The two mirrors in the room

stare at what they've been given:
a wall, a bathrobe hanging crooked,
a towel in a heap, a double bed
unmade, different each day.

Their duty is to listen.
At noon, in the blue heat,
a squeal of brakes a block away,
then the wailing that follows.

They heat the quarrelling traffic
and the planes passing overhead, then
forget what they have seen
and heard, recording nothing.

These upright sheets of light
show a planet whose photographs
were flopped by a careless printer.
Here, the plausible aliens dress

with their watches on the wrong
wrist; their shirts are buttoned
differently, but always, in the glass,
freshly pressed before the party.

What happens afterwards-
stains, crumpled embarrassment-
passes without comment. But
tableaux have taken place within

the jurisdiction of the mirrors
that never should have happened:
the sobbing child breaking a toy
that belonged to a special friend;

an old woman dying on the floor;
a wife naked with another man.
If you lived here, the mirrors
whisper, you'd know everything.

Would you want that? Could you,
with your weepy, weak addictions,
take in everything that happens here,
then- not a word said- let it pass?