we are not allowed to look in mirrors
above the fireplaces, cold for us
above mantelpieces of polished portraits
not of us.

yet sometimes when madame and family
are visiting in their Sunday finery
the house empty
and housekeeper busy –

I rise from the ashes to examine there
a pallid child, with her mother’s hair.

they say she wore it coiled, glistening
like the cutting clung in father’s hand
victims of insatiable passion
we will serve in her good name.