Who does a job well, and very well—
These are the artists, those curious
We are cobblers of the song
And barkers of the carnival word,
We are tailors of the light
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The mirror is dirty from the detritus of dailiness—
I look in the mirror and am freckled.
A week out from being cleaned, maybe two, maybe more,
The Milky Way shows itself in the secret silver,
This star chart in my own bathroom,
Aglow not in darkness but with the lights on,
Everything suddenly so clear.
It is not smear I am looking at, but galaxies.
It is not toothpaste and water spots—
When I look in the mirror, it is writing and numbers,
Musical notes, 1s and 0s, Morse-like codes, runes.
I am looking over into the other side,
And over there, whoever they are, it turns out
They look a lot like me. Like me, but freckled.
Born in 1952, Alberto Ríos is the inaugural state poet laureate of Arizona and the author of many poetry collections, including A Small Story about the Sky (Copper Canyon Press, 2015). In 1981, he received the Walt Whitman Award for his collection Whispering to Fool the Wind (Sheep Meadow Press, 1982). He currently serves as a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets.