Summary of the poem, including three main events from the poem.
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In this poem, a mirror describes its existence and its owner, who grows older as the mirror watches.
The mirror first describes itself as “silver and exact.” It forms no judgments, instead merely swallowing what it sees and reflecting that image back without any alteration. The mirror is not cruel, “only truthful.” It considers itself a four-cornered eye of a god, which sees everything for what it is.
Most of the time, the mirror looks across the empty room and meditates on the pink speckled wall across from it. It has looked at that wall for so long that it describes the wall as “part of my heart.” The image of the wall is interrupted only by people who enter to look at themselves and the darkness that comes with night.
The mirror imagines itself as a lake. A woman looks into it, trying to discern who she really is by gazing at her reflection. Sometimes, the woman prefers to look at herself in candlelight or moonlight, but these are “liars” because they mask her true appearance. Only the mirror (existing here as lake) gives her a faithful representation of herself.
Because of this honesty, the woman cries and wrings her hands. Nevertheless, she cannot refrain from visiting the mirror over and over again, every morning. Over the years, the woman has “drowned a young girl” in the mirror, and now sees in her reflection an old woman growing older by the day. This old woman rises toward her out of the mirror like “a terrible fish.”