from the Spanish of Jorge Luis Borges
I do not know what face returns my stare
as I lean toward the face inside the mirror,
nor do I know the old man lurking there,
reflected back in silent, weary anger.
Slowly, in my darkness, with my hand,
I trace my unseen wrinkles. Then a flash
of light breaks through; I almost glimpse a strand
of hair, tinged with gold yet dull as ash.
I tell myself again that I have lost
no more than merely superficial shows,
the same brave consolation Milton glossed;
but then I think of letters, or a rose.
I think if I could only see my face,
I’d know myself on this rare day of grace.
(originally published in the Alabama Literary Review, Volume 18, Number 1, Fall 2009)