, May 22, 2024

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Stolen Glances

  •   1 min read
Stolen Glances

Intro by Ted Kooser

When I look in a mir­ror, I try to com­pose my face so that it is at its best, but it’s a face that beyond my bath­room gets sup­plant­ed by all the more home­ly faces I car­ry out into the world. John Thorn­berg is a Min­neso­ta poet, but here’s a poem of his that reflects upon all of us everywhere.

By John Thornberg

Every time I turn to peer
at my reflection in the mirror,

a cruel bargain comes in play:
the glass takes off another day

from my expected living span.
It’s vanity’s fair payment plan.

Each time I look I pay, alas.
I see already how the glass

has laced its silver in my hair,
my youth was stolen unaware.

The real me just fades away,
glance by glance, day by day,

until too late I’ll turn to see
the mirror has stolen off with me!

American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation (www.poetryfoundation.org), publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Poem copyright ©2019 by John Thornberg, “Stolen Glances.” Poem reprinted by permission of John Thornberg. Introduction copyright © 2022 by The Poetry Foundation.

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