Looking Glass

by Helen Mort

Looking Glass

You cannot use your knife or fork or teeth too quietly.

- Hints on Etiquette and the Usages of Society, 1843


There is always a cake that says eat me.

Currants, like the pupils of small eyes,

the open mouth of the mirror

showing how you’ve grown -

your wrists ballooning

and your thighs two chimney pots.

The world’s a doll’s house,

trampled by your tread,

the continents

of your left feet.


There is always a bottle marked drink me.

Your open and unsteady palm,

the room outgrowing you,

the ocean of the carpet,

tabletop becoming sky.

Among the skyscrapers of furniture

you could forget yourself,

a longed-for, liquid

disappearing act,

the way your limbs contract,


as if you should be on a cake yourself,

a three-tier, sugar-spun affair,

a wedding in July and you

on top, in marzipan, in miniature,

the laughing bridesmaid

with her caught bouquet

and lilac dress who bends

towards you saying:

isn’t she good? Doesn’t she

look like a real woman?