A Trick of the Light—Chiara Situmorang

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After Plath

You were the first
person she met from Beyond.
It was quiet, her feet scuffing
the floor as she climbed up into the
dustlight. There was nothing but yellow
everywhere she looked. She heard the glint of silver
as she was trying to see past the haze; a whisper reached her
from behind the cloth – brittled with age – that wrapped around you.

She said you faded in and out of focus when she first saw you,
like a mirage, or a dream. You were young – you are young:
skin like sheets of water, eyes rippling.
You were her mirror image then.
She was fascinated, she said.
You are truthful but she sees only lies.
She spent hours with you. You were a reverie
that she wished to understand. She didn’t notice that
the room had turned brown; light barely skittered across the floor anymore.

When you look at something for too long you don’t realise that they’ve
changed. When she looked at you she only saw a reflection – her
desire was so strong that she never saw the waves in the glass.
You were replaced by an old woman: skin like dried petals,
eyes sorrowful puddles. She jumped when the woman
appeared, like she had suddenly woken up from a
dream. She asked where you were but there was
no answer.

It’s dark now, too dark, to see
the all-knowing eye that looks back at her,
but she stays up there even now, looking for you.
She is saturated with time, poor girl, and she doesn’t even know
that there is only one of you; that there has only ever been one of you.

first published in Perspektif, Volume 11

Chiara Situmorang writes about identity, family, and love in all its forms in her writing. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Uncanny, Perspektif, and Dwelling Literary, among others. She lives in Jakarta with her family and her three little poodles. Say hello to her on Twitter @chiarastmrng

photo by Soragrit Wongsa (via unsplash)