Life as a Mirror

Erin Bealmear
| poetry


It was a relationship of listening.
Listening while we ate dinner
or sat on the couch. Listening
while you answered
my questions. Listening
while you complained
about your ex-girlfriends.
Nodding, as if I understood.
I watched as you told me your birthday,
your middle name, and the ages
of your siblings, without asking me
the same. Maybe you were nervous.
Maybe you wanted to be loved.
Or maybe you didn’t care.
There were times when I could feel
your pain breaking open in your throat.
I wanted you to feel mine, too.
But I only ever felt like a talk show host
or a perfectly wordless blowup doll,
my breast in your mouth, finger pressing
on my clit. That was my compensation.
My brother is completely self-obsessed.
He only ever talks about himself,
you told me and then drifted off
on a tangent. I could have pointed out
that you and your brother were created
in the same image, but I didn’t want
to be rude. Instead, I broke up with you.
You are a lovely person who deserves
to be happy, you said, the man who knew
nothing about me. You weren’t even upset.
At least, that’s the way it seemed.
You didn’t say and I didn’t ask.

Erin Bealmear’s poetry has been published in Rattle, The New York Quarterly, Rhino, The Moth, and Spillway, among others. She was also awarded a South Carolina Review poetry award and was a finalist for the New Issues Poetry Prize.

Night Poem