© 2009

The Story Behind the Poem
by Michele Linder

This is how my life goes...  a fellow SayWhatClub member sounded the alert that Edeltraut L. Scheffler-Plath's (Eddy, to those who know and love her) eighty-seventh birthday was coming up on February 20th, and thought it would be nice if we, members of EXPLORE, could each come up with a few birthday verses to send to Eddy--being that she is a published poet and all.  I can never let a poetry challenge pass, so I took the task to heart, but didn't have time to begin composing right away.  Therefore, I had Eddy in my thoughts as I went through a couple of busy days, glancing on occasion at what the looking glass reflected. 

Finally, finding a morning to sit down and write, I began jotting down a few thoughts on the screen (I usually write on the computer), but nothing was coming together, so I got up to send a card to my daughter to congratulate her on her new job.  That began my making out cards for my other daughter and my sister-in-law, which then led to my remembering my best friend from school, Dawn, had her fiftieth birthday coming up on February 24th.  I got a card down from my shelf, addressed it to Dawn, signing "Happy Birthday" and my love under the printed sentiment of the card, thinking, "I need to write a birthday poem for Dawn." 

I then went back to my composing for Eddy, and the following is the finished poem I wrote for Eddy.  Note:  I have made a few changes from the version I actually sent to Eddy (that version was devoid of punctuation, finished form, and I changed and added a word or line here and there), as I sent the poem two days before her birthday, on Wednesday--not my intent.  More on that later...

The Looking Glass Lies
I catch a glimpse of time, as I walk past the looking glass.
Is the face looking back mine? I see a stranger.
I catch a glimpse of years. as I walk past the looking glass.
The stranger reappears, she's watching me.
I catch a glimpse of life, as I walk past the looking glass.
It cuts me like a knife, but then I remember... the looking glass lies.

"Mirror, Mirror on the wall
Who's the fairest one of all?"

And the answer comes in a child's voice, my voice.

"The face most fair
Is the one that you see
Deep lines and gray hair
Can't take away "Me"
It's true, what you view in a framed piece of mirror.
Isn't all that you are, what's inside is much dearer.
You're as young as your heart.  Yes, youth is a choice.
Collecting years is an art.  Raise your voice and rejoice!! 
"Eddy's 87!!!!"
1 2 3  4 5 6  7 8 9 10 11 12
13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21
22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30
31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39
40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48
49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57
58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66
67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75
76 77 78 79 80 81 82 83 84
85 86 87and one to grow on!!!
No, the numbers don't lie, it's the reflection untrue.
Rest assured that your age is not the best or worst of you.
And memories are numbered.  Just pick one, you'll see!!
Traveling back to that time, that's the age you will be.
Look back with much joy for the life that you've had,
Thanking God for the memories, both the good and the bad.
Live for the day, be present in "right now".
Do all that you love, and what you don't, disavow.
And, no matter what comes expect great things from tomorrow.
For knowledge grows wings that can lift you from sorrow.
And when you get lonely, we, your friends from Explore,
Will come for a visit, just open your "cyber" door.
Happy Birthday, Dear Eddy!!  Raise your glasses!! "PROST!!"
May your birthday be wonderful!!  And I'll end with this toast!!
Ich möchte einen Toast für Eddy!
Möge Dir dein Weg leicht werden
Möge Dir der Wind immer von hinten kommen
Möge Dir die Sonne warm ins Gesicht scheinen
Möge Dir ein sanfter Regen auf die Felder fallen
und bis wir uns wiedersehen
möge Gott Dich in seiner Hand halten.
Alles Gute zum Geburtstag! 

As I mentioned, I finished the poem, but had intended to go back after a day had passed to see if I wanted to make any changes--I usually tweak my writing a bit before I send it off.  However, something made me hit the "Send" button instead of "Save Now" to my draft file.  The explanation for my premature sending came in Eddy's response.

Eddy wrote, "Telepathy again? I have never done this before, but today I took a mirror in my hand, looked at that face that stared back at me, wondered if it was really "Me", and now I get this poem from you....  Eddy"

I received several emails from other Explorers saying how the poem spoke to what they themselves were feeling about getting older, and some even suggested I publish the poem due to that fact.  But it was Eddy's reply that made me catch my breath and wonder... "Did Eddy take the mirror in her hand at the very same moment I clicked the "Send" button??"  Don't you just love such things???  Now, you might think that is the end of the story of how "The Looking Glass Lies" came about, but it really is just the beginning...

After sending the poem to Eddy, I copied and pasted "The Looking Glass Lies", to a draft folder for my friend Dawn, thinking I could rework the poem a bit and send it to her for her birthday.  However, a part of me agonized at the thought of doing that, for I had truly written the poem specifically for Eddy.  And, does a good friend from childhood not warrant a poem of her own, one just for her, not a reworked one?  Sigh...

This morning I opened the draft folder and took down the card I had signed to Dawn, needing to finish it and get it into the mail in time for her birthday.  I put aside my reservations, edited the poem where I felt it could be improved, and altered the content to speak to my old friend from childhood.  Dawn and I were great friends, but she got married a few years before I did and moved to a town a few hours away from where we grew up, so we didn't see as much of one another as we once did.  Then, I  got married, moved away, and have never lived in Ohio again.  And though Dawn and I have kept in touch and have seen one another over the years, it hasn't been as much or as extensive as you might think best friends would, or even should stay in touch.  I still get a little sad when I think of how close we used to be, and of how negligent we both have been--I sometimes feel it is her fault, and I am sure sometimes she feels it is mine, back and forth, back and forth, neither doing enough to keep as close as we once were--feeling regret that we aren't as close as we could be.   

So, as I copied off the poem, placed it in the envelope with the card, and sealed the envelope, I was feeling loss and shed a few tears that I am not as close to my old friend as I would like to be.  At that moment it occurred to me that reworking the poem, written for a new, online friend, in order to send it to an old friend might have been what was intended in the first place?  Maybe composing the poem for Eddy was the vehicle for sending it to Dawn?  Now that gives a new meaning to "killing two birds with one stone"! 

I promise, no birds were killed in the writing of this article.