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Mirror (A Poem)

by Matthew Arnold Stern

As we lurch towards war with Iraq (and probably North Korea and several other countries), we need to ask ourselves, are we fighting for the right reasons? What will fighting accomplish? Are we truly battling evil, or are we letting evil control us through fear and a desire for vengeance? I contributed the following poem to Poets Against The War not only to question our country's policies but to challenge people on all sides to consider the caustic effects hatred has on our judgment and humanity.

*   *   *

"If this is not evil, then evil has no meaning." -- George W. Bush

I've seen evil.
I've seen it in my bathroom mirror.

I've seen it caked on my face,
the white powder that was concrete, steel, glass,
fathers, grandmothers, daughters.

It etches into my skin,
worms into every crease and pore,
contorts my forehead and cheeks
and thins my lips
into an unforgiving scowl.

It presses on my eyelids
like silver coins
until I cannot see you.
I see the Beast,
pointed beard, horns, tail
who dances as I weep.

It fills my ear canals,
the thick white gunk
that distorts the songs of prophets
until they
crackle like Kristallnacht,
clang like Crusader swords.

Deaf, blind,
skin burning, peeling,
I claw at air,
fingernails reaching for any face
I can tear at,
while praying for some ethereal hands
to pull this toxic mask
from my own face.

I hate you
for making me hate you.

I hate myself
for hating.

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