Home Poetry Vertigo


by Stephanie Alfaia

The victorian mirror hanging in the waiting room pulled her body to a halt. She recognizes the brass plated leaves that curved around the edges of the smooth surface. Eina inhaled. And. This time she didn’t look away.

Alexa, define 'reflection':
1. The change in direction of a wave at a boundary between two different media, so that the wave returns back into the medium it came from.
2. The throwing back by a body or surface of light, heat, or sound without adsorbing it. A think that is a consequence from something else.
3. Serious thought or consideration.
4. 'Bent back' in Latin.

Eina found herself back in her grandmother’s house. Vilma was a small woman with loud opinions, who insisted on placing her very similar looking glass in her dining room of all places. And. Eye level to confront all six people. “I like to see who really enjoys my cooking,” her grandma would say. “Reflections don’t lie.” The mirror questioned every feature on Eina’s face. She stood examining the image bent back at her, lifting an index finger to trace the hairline that separated her now golden curls from the skin tone she could not change. Up and around, over and about, interrupted by small attached ears. There are two types of earlobes, she remembered, free or attached. Eina read somewhere that attached earlobes meant she had a Gift.

Look at yourself, paint beauty onto the face
learn the very science of knowledge
become kind with a good pinch of empathy
but. Why?
You'd end up prettiest, smartest, nicest
the -est in the room.
And. It wouldn't make a difference.

A gift? Eina thought confronting her reflection. What gift do I have? Whatever it is, I’ll return it. I want the gift of balance. The kind of balance where I know who I am and what I want. The control to stand still. To pause. Hold. Stay. It seems there’s nothing I can do to maintain balance. Sure, I can pause a moment. But. I don’t know how to hold it long enough that it becomes consistent. Balance. Work-life balance? Forget it. Me-them. They always win. How do you balance people? Or even hold them long enough that they stand still. In my life I mean. There’s nothing I can do to make them stay. Make them respect me. On their own. Not the sort of respect we claw for for in the office. I can’t make them care either. You can’t make ’em. Even well balanced there’s nothing I can do to make people love me. Not the family kind of love. The type of unconditional if they didn’t hate to, type. A gift… what the fuck is that? I’d like to balance me. Them. Make them want to live. Make them want more for themselves. More balanced people. But. I can’t There is nothing I can control. So I might as well be out of control. I might as well live in a cloud-like state of oblivion.

There are too many variables
loopholes, blurred lines, gray areas
conflicting opinions
stubbornness and ignorance
but. There is no way out of
the equation that ends in

Nothing is balanced, nothing remains. No constant denominator. The only constant is loss.

A Libra balances fate and effort
action and a stone-cold statue
ying and yang
ready-not ready
but. They keep saying opposites attract.

“Eina?” A nurse calls smiling her kindest smile.
“This way please, the doctor will be right with you.”
Dr. Weinstein walks in with a stethoscope around his neck and an ophthalmoscope in his strong hand. Always equipped. Always balanced. The doctor lifts the device and shines a light into Eina’s smartest sharp eye. Satisfied, he moves on to her mouth. “Say ahhh…” he asks. Ahhhhh’m sick it, she thought. Balanced means being polite. Weinstein moves on to examine Eina’s ears. “Have you had a cold lately?” He asks. That must be why I’m a terrible listener. “no” she replies. The doctor lifts his eyes to meet hers, his smile trailed along. He’s satisfied with himself. Diagnostic conclusion –
“Eina, you have vertigo.”

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