Mirror Image

When I look in the mirror,
is the woman I see a reflection of my actual appearance,
or my brain’s projection of how I believe I appear to others?
I’d like to think that my reflection trumps all.
That she will deflate any insecurities I have,
showcasing smooth, radiant skin, long curly hair, enticing curves.
but my reflection must be hiding somewhere—
driven away in horror by my projection.

Because all I see is a face spotted with blemishes.
A wild afro that awakens in others memories
of pickaninnies and dangerous black revolutionaries.
Black lips—tainted from all the smokers I’ve kissed—
showing through three coats of red lipstick.
Flabby arms despite my efforts to lift weights.
A stomach extending further than my ass.
Love handles that hatefully disfigure my body,
drawn on with discolored lines stretching over my wide, lopsided hips.
It is my projection that makes me wonder
if my boyfriend is lying when he says I’m beautiful.

She tells me a raw spaghetti noodle body is obese.
She encourages me to stop eating.
It is her I want to hit when I drive my fist
into the mirror, shattering the glass,
cursing myself to see her image
the next seven years in the shards.
I want to squeeze those shards in my palms,
slicing skin, the blood dripping down my arms.
Maybe I can bleed my projection out of me.

© 2015 Nortina Simmons

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