On Echo and Narcissus
He has given her this room of mirrors, in which she is bored;
she may speak to him only when he speaks to her.
He spends most of his time by the pool. What is it he sees,
staring down at its tiled floor – some classical coin
with shimmering bronze face? He is as beautiful as a dolphin
but never swims. She often does. She likes the splashing cry
of the water as her long arms slice through vivid green.
Why does he never look at her? He is always looking down –
even into his glass as they sit in the evening by the pool.
‘Have you had a nice day?’ (he stirs and pokes his ice);
‘a nice day?’ she echoes, desolate… Oh, but she loves him!
Once she swam the pool’s whole length to surprise him,
curving up to where he gazed soulfully, teardrops pocking
the chlorine. At first he did not see her face,
then – when she was out of breath, but still smiling –
those clear eyes glazed with shock and he looked away.
She did not hear the slapping of her feet on concrete
as she walked inside, then dripped up the long, soft stairs
to her room. ‘With only mirrors to keep me company
I shall waste away, waste away,’ she thought
but could not say – as usual, the words stuck in her throat.
And she curled into herself, hiding from all those faces.
Stretched out flat by the pool, he too loved and wasted,
had not even sensed her walking away, her stifled sigh.