by Beth Copeland

She gazed in the mirror as a young girl
at her rosy, apple-cheeked twin,
staring until her face shifted into
a silver-haired woman’s.

A trick of light refracted
from a sheet of mercury glass.
Still, it was a forecast—
the sharp, sunken cheeks

she would someday glimpse,
a woman staring back
in a shop window, a stranger
from another lifetime.

Mirror, mirror

From another lifetime
in a shop window, a stranger,
a woman staring back.
She would someday glimpse

the sharp, sunken cheeks.
Still, it was a forecast
from a sheet of mercury glass,
a trick of light refracted.

A silver-haired woman
staring until her face shifted into
the rosy, apple-cheeked twin
she saw in the mirror as a young girl.

IMAGE: “Portrait of a Lady” by Gustav Klimt (1917).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: “Witch” is a mirror poem. The first three stanzas establish the self-portrait of a young woman (me) imagining what she will look like when she’s old. The fourth stanza, “Mirror, mirror,” separates the future from the past and also functions like a hinge on a compact mirror. Stanzas 5-7 are reflections, with the lines of stanzas 1-3 written backward. Finally, we return to the young, “apple-cheeked” woman we saw at the beginning of the poem. The reference to an apple is an allusion to the witch who gave Snow White a poison apple and also looked in the mirror and asked, “Mirror, mirror on the wall. Who’s the fairest of them all?”


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Beth Copeland lived in Japan, India, and North Carolina as a child. Her book Traveling Through Glass received the 1999 Bright Hill Press Poetry Book Award and her second poetry collection Transcendental Telemarketer was released by BlazeVOX books in 2012. Her poems have been widely published in literary journals and have received awards from Atlanta Review, North American Review, The North Carolina Poetry Society, and Peregrine. Two of her poems have been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She is an English instructor at Methodist University in Fayetteville, North Carolina. She lives in a log cabin in the country with her husband, Phil Rech.