What the mirror showed

The mirror showed what it chose to show, never what the viewer demanded to see.

The mirror didn’t show the back of his head, because the back of his head didn’t exist. You peered into his mask from the inside.

The mirror showed a mannequin but not the blood, brain, heart, lungs, intestines and other organs inside you.

The mirror showed a pile of masks, some cracked, all dirty. You stood next to them, but the mirror didn’t show you.

The mirror didn’t show the nightly massacres taking place behind your eyelids.

The mirror showed pages torn from a notebook, covered in poems, diary entries and obscene doodles, all artfully arranged in the form of a man.

The mirror showed a spurt of blood, a smashed camera, strewn flowers, a copy of Hamlet.

The mirror showed a hand in a glove, a bird in a cage, a thought in a head. You turned off the light to extinguish all three.

The mirror showed a forest, a little girl, a dead wolf. Outside, sirens howled.

The mirror showed your future. Your reflection’s cold, grey skin and sagging mouth smelt of death.

The mirror showed her washing her hands. Blood spattered the white sink. Behind her, in the doorway: a man made of rusty knives.

The mirror showed him the mask he thought he was wearing, not the mask he was wearing, which resembled his face.

The mirror didn’t show the masks you’d buried like corpses. You smoothed your black skirt, admired your stilettos. You were dressed to kill.

The mirror showed itself. Nothing on its silvered surface was real. You stood in front of it, staring at a face.

The mirror showed the house’s empty shell. Vapour trails scarred the sky. Elsewhere, in a dark room, you put on your tie and your fright mask.

The mirror showed a cat, a broken bottle, a trunk exploding with fake furs. She kept to the shadows, out of the light of the setting sun.

The mirror showed your most acceptable mask. While you shaved, the man on the other side of the glass dragged a blade over his throat.

The mirror showed a dream superficially indistinguishable from your day-to-day life. You had no idea.

The mirror showed an empty stage. The audience could be heard muttering and coughing. Put on your mask. Perform.


Happy Kafka Day

One morning, without hitherto ever having dreamt at all, every bug in the world woke up to find it had turned into a tiny Franz Kafka.


Beside it was a grey serge suit, a shirt and tie, and some shoes. These appeared to have been made by someone with no sense of what they were.


As it tried to establish which limbs the shoes fitted, it found itself waving to another tiny Kafka and calling out in some kind of language.


When the other Kafka called back, it was astonished to find it could understand what it said. Unfortunately, it didn’t know what this meant.


Had any tiny Kafka been able to hear what they were all saying, it would’ve realised that it constituted every word he could and would have written.


Each Kafka would therefore have understood that what lay behind every single Kafka’s utterance was the fundamental particle of anxiety.


Once it was dressed, each Kafka autonomously decided to carry on trying to be an insect for as long as humanly possible.