Literary Hub Poem of the Week

May 27, 2015  By Frank Bidart

Frank Bidart’s new poem brings us back to that dance of self across time through the plural openings of eyes, mirrors, others. Meditative, obsessive, vulnerable, this poet’s signature traits remind us how much looking is still a live performance. Yet Bidart’s familiar imagery is sly and estranging. Where most of us, poets especially, inside the proverbial looking-glass might find only ourselves, Bidart’s art has always been about permitting other voices into the most intimate, if fleeting, interiors. Such looking surely has its erotic tension, but more essentially, “Old and Young” bets on the side of artistic scrupulousness. Glances pass, bodies age, but the poem is where we meet.   

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—Adam Fitzgerald, Poetry Editor




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If you have looked at someone in

a mirror

looking at you in the mirror


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your eyes meeting


not face to face



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backstage as you


for a performance


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you look into the long horizontal


that backs the long theatrical


make-up table that runs along one

wall of the high dressing-room aerie

from which you must descend to the stage




there in the mirror you see

his eyes

looking into your eyes in the mirror


where you


amused begin to talk


suddenly inspired not

to look at each other

directly but held by this third


thing as his eyes

allow your eyes to

follow his eyes in the mirror


you ask if anyone has ever

made a movie

in which two people talk not


directly to each other but during

the entire

static but dynamic


film as they go about their lives

their eyes are

locked staring at each other in a mirror


that they together hold a few feet

above them

or beside them


knowing if they look away

they will lose

what they now possess


trapped but freed

neither knowing

why this is better


why this

as long as no one enters

is release


because you are


his age






space which

every other

space merely approximates


you ask again if

anybody made a movie

about this





enter loudly and when you

plural each look away you plural soon go on

Frank Bidart
Frank Bidart
Frank Bidart is the author of several collections of poetry, including Metaphysical Dog, Watching the Spring Festival, Star Dust, Desire, and In the Western Night: Collected Poems 1965–90. He has won many prizes, including the Wallace Stevens Award, the Bollingen Prize for American Poetry, and the National Book Critics Circle Award. His book Half-light: Collected Poems 1965–2016 won the 2018 Pulitzer Prize and the 2017 National Book Award. He lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

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