A Poem by Joseph Roque
Mirrors Don’t Lie
Just like that, I appeared―
scathingly small, naked and defenseless.
So many things I didn’t know when I was born, and so
many more no one told me as I grew―
my parents instinctively protective.
But in the end, it’s all about the secrets kept hidden.
Wouldn’t have mattered where I was raised―
small, sleepy, safe Midwestern town or flagrantly filthy
big city with concrete and steel playgrounds, voraciously
waiting to eat me alive. Turns out, everywhere has its own
dangers—just a matter of degree.
Years blur, but I never noticed them,
too busy soaking in the juvenile joy of fearless freedom
and imagined immortality.
But aging is not random, does not make exceptions.
The beauty and magic of youth is in its total immunity
to the concept of life cycles or expiration dates.
Dreams soar, love blooms and life is good until,
in a blink, everyone around me asked,
“Will you retire soon?”
Nightmares nagged of a gold watch
and a collection of crossword puzzles—
gifts at my retirement party.
Then Fate stepped in with a vision
and a whisper, revealing the secret kept from me―
“Don’t ever look in a mirror once you’ve grown.”
But this evening, the curiosity crushing,
I stand before my own.
What I see is not, cannot be me.
Nearly catatonic, I heard the second secret never told
now buzzing in my ear—
“Mirrors don’t lie.”
Joseph Roque is a poet who frequently writes about life, love, loneliness, growing older, alienation, and the joys of youth. His poems have appeared in Psychopoetica, Mad Swirl, Aphelion, Death Head Grin, The Poet’s Haven, RagMag, and Cerebration. His latest book is Ashes And Excuses.