Back to Issue Ten.

Mise En Abyme



If the bottle rests to my left, I am beginning.
If the bottle lies on the floor, shattered, I am still

just beginning. When I arrive at night I won’t
see the lake until morning. If I arrive

at the house in the dark, all day I’ve been thinking
how could I change into someone else. Metamorphosis

is the innards of my bag strewn across the table:
paperclips, bottle caps, receipts and receipts.

If I buy American, a flashlight lies within reach
when I enter the switched-off house—but I don’t

buy American; there is no flashlight, no gas,
no way to steep tea before I fall into bed. I sleep

until morning warms the lake, dip a toe in, swim,
shower. In the fogged mirror, if I comb my hair

to the other side everyone thinks I have changed.
This lake is big enough to hold several small islands,

each with its own lake. If I spend nights here
clasping my hands, stirring miso, scrubbing mold,

it’s because I live to watch these things delicately
merge, scatter, and reassemble.

Sam Ross lives in New York City. His poems have appeared in Tin House, Gulf Coast, Indiana Review, Guernica, and elsewhere. He is the co-editor of Circumference, a journal of poetry in translation.