Spring 2011 - THE POTOMAC

Hall of Mirrors
   William Reichard

In this era of recession and recovery,
the budget drops and you're unemployed.
We've been here before, haven't we?
We both grew up in poverty.
You and your sister slept in a park
to escape your crazy mother.
My mother worked in a factory
to escape my crazy father.
Maybe the crazies should have shacked up,
but then this would be a different story.
I grow too cautious where money is concerned.
You learn to take the losses
with less and less distress.
The wicked old American myth:
some new opportunity will always
come around. I don't believe that.
The old and the poor and the down-
on-their-luck grow less and less
visible. How long before you and I
disappear into the vague memories
of our friends, who'll recall us
and ask, what happened to those two?
Maybe we do this to each other,
call up weaknesses, stave off strengths.
In Orson Wells' film, The Lady
From Shanghai, he and his former
lady love have double-crossed
one another and end up in a fun house
hall of mirrors. Each can see
multiple reflections of themselves
and the other, but which is real?
Both have guns and murder on their minds.
They're a toxic mix, too much alike.
One of them has to die. Rita Hayworth
levels her pistol, Orson Wells levels his.
I'm aiming at you, lover, he says,
a weary passion in his tone.
Are you aiming at me?

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