Jeanette Beebe

How a Mirror is Made






I can’t remember the first time I saw myself

in the mirror, but a photo shows ballet class,


age three, a blur of a girl with bangs  over

her eyes and fleshy thighs, no shoes, no  tights.


Three rows of penguins in coats of red sequins

spread their fingers in sequence,


and the girl forgot when to clap,


when                to roll over,

when                to sit, good girl!


On stage, when


the wrong way


without a wall              as a guide, when to be without practice,

without practice,


what                 knew was girl to girl, watching,


who     , the right places.




A mirror is the face that doesn’t lie,

an echo

that gives us

to us.


It shows what is there

(we are there),

that tugs into.





Before they

was      I,


the stage crossed

with black tape,


following the map

from the floor.




A reflection:


to recognize,

the dance

so close, but not exactly —


those girls called me, called  I

a girl who        a girl                a girl who saw

from the audience

take your                      seat


across the stump

of your knee

(wherever I      was supposed

to go)





to a turn-style,

the mirror:


so that we are seen,

so that we  know.


The picture of ourselves

that we carry,

who walks around


when we forget,

so worn, so  clear.


Jeanette Beebe is a poet and journalist based in New Jersey. Her poetry has recently appeared in Crab Creek ReviewDelaware Poetry ReviewNat BrutRogue Agent, and Tinderbox Poetry. Her poem “Adopted” won First Prize in the Iowa Poetry Association’s Lyrical Iowa Competition. Previously, she founded and directed Moving ForWords Productions, an arts collective, to support her hometown poetry slam in Des Moines, Iowa. Her undergraduate thesis at Princeton, “An Instrument for Blinking (Poems)”, was advised by Tracy K. Smith.

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