A mirror is a pond that hardened into ice and moved inside. The frame around it stops its melt. Weary of gazing at the sky, it needed something else to look at, something that looked back. For this, it sets a blank expression; it never interrupts or shivers or allows its desires to dart like silver minnows across a face. However, in the world of the house, it is dying of boredom and regret. It longs to see a damselfly, to taste the rain, to feel the weight of water lilies as the buds thicken with the imperative to bloom. Servant to the occupants, the mirror is dying of holding everything inside. Like Cassandra, it’s been granted the ruthless grace of accuracy, though it must appear undis¬cerning, unable to separate the beauty from the ugliness in ordinary life. Though more attention is paid to it than any other object in the room, it is strangely invisible. People stare into it several times a day with deepening attention, noting bristles on a chin, a tremor in the upper lip, the eyes’ dissemblance. They never see the mirror.
A man-sized, deeply whorled thumb made a dip there as in dough; the tied-off end of a broken balloon drifted down and landed in that place. Navel gazer, we say, meaning something negative, a person who can’t see past herself. But why don’t we obsess, why don’t we think about this gnomic rune more often? Mysterious as the paw print of a snow leopard in a mountain drift, as ordinary as a pit inside a peach, as far away from function now as an extra feline toe, could it be a blind third eye sunk into the fat? Whatever else, it’s the final remnant of the snaky cord that attached us like an astronaut to the mother ship. There are mornings we feel the tug. Try as we may, we can’t recall that cut, though sometimes we wake with a start, floating in the darkness of the outer world, irreparably alone.
It sails without sails in the garden, so slow, if it were a ship, there’d be no wind. Enough has been said about the house it carries on its back. You’re charmed by its eyes on stilts, little periscopes of sight it can pull into its soft body. Its slime is a gift, a viscous track laid under its belly. The snail’s not made of blubber but it looks like fat trimmed from a pork chop, or a dollop of lard squeezed from a pastry tube. You could go on about its constitu¬tion—it’s still moving past—but you’ve yet to speak about the horns that rival its eyes for the pleasure they give you. Not meant for fighting, without points or velvet, they tap the air as delicately as the buds of fingers touching the inner walls of the womb. And they glisten, as if licked by something as small as a chickadee’s tongue.
Of the utensils, spoons have the deepest reach into the past. They remember being liquid, silver or steel. That’s why, if your hand is steady, they can carry any kind of broth to your lips without a spill. They come closer than the others to human anatomy, the palm cupped to lift mouthfuls of water from a stream. When coupled, there is music in spoons, their clatter as pagan and lustful as the drumming of a ruffed grouse. If they have a flaw, it’s their love of rhyme, their choices so limited they’ve turned the moon into a cliché.
A baby is safe alone with spoons. They have never entertained a murderous thought. Their favourite substance is pudding, thin or thick; their favourite temperatures the two extremes. A single spoon on the table beside a shallow bowl means someone very old is about to eat.
From The Book of Marvels: A Compendium of Everyday Things, by Lorna Crozier © 2012. Published by Greystone Books, an imprint of D&M Publishers. Reprinted with permission of the publisher.
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