Back home in the States,
The reflection of the meadow skates
Around the newly frozen pond,
Bound up by the weather's bond,
Where of course a close look proves
That water, not the mountain, moves;
Back there the time winds down,
The new world old and brown,
While in Thailand, I, at fifty,
Put no trust in worlds that shifty,
Placing small aesthetic stock
In views become as hard as rock;
At the ferry to Koh Samet
The world is like a fishing net,
A sieve through which the sun lets pass
Ripples in the summer glass
Which, while my fellow tourists snap
The phosphorescent ocean's slap
Around the hulls of fishing boats,
Reveal to me a sea that floats
On top of windows like a wave,
Blank grey on which reflections pave
A surface like so many Titians
Overlaid with repetitions
Of the harbor's bobbing scene,
As if the cover of a magazine
Were copied on Saran wrap
And laid so it could overlap
Its primogenitor, but shifted
To the right as if it drifted
With the current and appeared
To exist in time two-tiered,
Like those women with two faces
Or Escher’s multiple staircases
Where two completely different zones
Coexist on separate phones,
As if a double kind of seeing
Might distort our very being,
Allowing as it does two sides
To every coin, like tides,
Or like these pictures on the pane:
Such superimpositions might explain,
Found as simply as they are,
How the presence of a star
Long ago defunct could vault
Through an atmospheric fault
Where its actuarial tables double
Like constellations in the Hubble,
The way our lives repeat
At certain times each beat,
Duplicating in the mind
Pictures taken somewhat blind,
Moments coalescing when
Eventually they're done again,
Gathering together on reflection
Like a jigsaw, every section
Like these junks precisely muralled
In the porthole's floating world,
Where all glances are initial
And the first sight is superficial;
And if at fifty things depend
On the way that prisms bend
And time distorts the Asian night,
Then vision hangs on second sight,
And what we think we see
Is nothing like it's going to be.

Krung Thep
March 9th, 2001


The idea is that if reflections layer images onto images, then time adds events to events, building up an ultimate picture which we can only see when it’s finished, when we’re totally old.

If space builds on space to produce a reflection, and if such reflections occur naturally, they must embody a certain visual veracity.

Time builds on time as well, and so reflections teach us to patience, to wait for the punch line.