Aphelion Issue 279, Volume 26
December 2022/January 2023
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The Mirror

by James Matthew Byers

The mirror loomed upon the wall
There down the barren, darkened hall-
A path on which the heart could stall
As quick from grace the soul would fall.

No one knew thus from whence it came,
Or who had placed its wicked frame
Describing all and none the same
As evil soon became its name.

To further add to its mystique,
A crooked window, bland and bleak
Shed dim lit light so pale and weak,
Reflected as if shone to speak.

There bordering the mirror’s pass
Were colors gray as smoky gas.
No elegance or style or class
So donned along this sordid pass.

A woman of an elder sort
Refused to leave and thus abort
Her roof beholding horror’s port;
A place for rumors to export.

The house was once a cheery home
Where merriment grew free to roam
But those were days now past and gone
As sullen silence muted tone.

The year was nineteen twenty-nine
And in a cottage so refined
By London’s standard, yet defined
The house as morbid by design.

How sad the people could not see
The house was plain as plain could be.
Its wood and brick and cobbled plea
Just harbored vile insanity.

The family members of the lady
Turned from potent into lazy.
Others went from sane to crazy
Gazing at their image, hazy.

Those who heard the story told
The villagers both brave and bold
There ranging from the young to old
Would see themselves and then turn cold.

The woman tried to usher out
The frightened ones whose screams and shouts
Continued thus to plague much doubt
Amongst her manner and about.

Though she herself could not detect
The mirror’s power, so abject.
But out of fear, she did respect
Its will and all it did reflect.

She never tried to move it, nor
Allowed those passing through her door
To touch it; only to explore
Their image seen, and nothing more.

Some Members from the Catholic Church
Stood gathered round a twisted birch
In union, diligent to search
For answers in their righteous perch.

Now word had spread the span across
As more ideas began to toss
The furtive means of such a loss
And thus they took plight to the cross.

What mortals do not understand
They pummel fast with rash demands
Or turn the tide to their command.
On bended knee, they clasped their hands.

Meanwhile, the elder lady cried
For all the truth she’d been denied.
To her own self, it seemed she lied
Whilst neighbor’s eyes beguiled and spied.

The more the mirror came to show,
The more she felt the evil grow
Until at last fell fast the snow,
Reflected through the window’s glow.

And though such knowledge caused her pain,
The woman did all to abstain
From letting go for freedom’s gain,
And left the mirror to remain.

The people from the poor to rich
Decided she must be a witch.
Opinions shifted in their switch
As newfound plans were sewn in stitch.

The Vicar from just down the way,
A man of pride intent to fray
The woman, putting on display
Her sins, he judged her price to pay.

He came and knocked and entered in,
An exorcism to begin
For what he thought must dwell within.
He chided her and named her sin.

The woman’s face the dim light chalked,
While down the hall the Vicar walked.
He did not listen as she talked.
Instead, the mirror’s face he stalked.

Then broken down, and bent as much,
She cried aloud, “You must not touch!”
But egotism was his crutch,
So he ignored and did as such.

Religiously in his romance
With tempting fate and circumstance
He held aloft his sudden chance,
And caught himself with his first glance.

The mirror dropped, but did not break,
And finding this too hard to take,
The Vicar made a grave mistake.
He slammed his foot down in his wake.

Its glass was shattered all around,
Too many pieces to be found.
The vicar screamed a horrid sound
While flailing wildly to the ground.

The woman, seeing pride repressed
Observed the man who’d been obsessed.
The Vicar madly there confessed:
“Be gone from me! I am possessed!”

He jumped and ran out in the night,
A soul depraved and full of fright.
All he had done was done in spite,
And wrong surpassed his sordid right.

A burden lifted like a veil
From one they had condemned to hell.
The story that she came to tell
To all is known, indeed quite well.

Her home, in warmth, bloomed bright and proud,
And welcomed those she loved, endowed.
The darkness parted like a cloud
Allowing what was not allowed.

The Vicar, mad and now unheard
Was brandished as a man absurd.
From the asylum, it occurred,
He sat and spoke confusing words.

There are two sides to every soul.
The mirror placed this in control
Of making half out of the whole
Of he or she whose vision stole

The truth, too much for some to bear,
Replacing spirits in the stare.
At last released into the air,
The demon crept up slowly there.

“Beware this wisdom shining clearer.”
Prays the woman that you hear her.
“Darkness might be coming nearer
Next time you look in the mirror.”

© 2007 James Matthew Byers

James Matthew Byers is a published author(Grecian Rune, 2004) and a father of two. He has been married to his wife, Dorothea, for seven years. Currently, he teaches Special Education at St. Clair County High School in Odenville, AL. He resides with his family and two cats in Rainbow City, AL.

Find more by James Matthew Byers in the Author Index.

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