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Mirrored Free

Coming toward an answer from a vagrant
point of view, setting free the saddled sheep
of woolly thoughts to graze by inconstant
streams and thunderheads may not achieve deep
inroads into popularity, which,
given that I don’t know how to manage
what you think, appeals. And although I twitch,
unaccustomed to the free and savage,
I remind myself I’ve navigated
by means of rearview mirrors all my life.
A bit of forward thinking, belated
though it is, may be the sweet anti-strife
my mirrored self has yearned for all these years—
a clear reflection blurred with happy tears.


I had a bit of fun this morning, revisiting the mirror writing favoured by Leonardo da Vinci in his notebooks. Some years back, when I journaled without the slightest notion of writing poetry, I would mirror-write on the left page, and use my non-dominant hand on the right. I loved the feeling of how it slowed my thinking down—or that thing we call thinking, which I’m not convinced it is.

I opted to use fountain pen and ink to write this sonnet (Shakespearean, in rhyme scheme) on heavy vellum. What you see in the image is the one and only draft. Freed from technology, I did all the editing in my head, which I have to say, felt fabulous! My only props were ababcdcdefefgg, written nearby, and a mirror, which I used now and again to check that the writing was legible.

The trickiest part, oddly enough, happened at the computer. I couldn’t type from my own backward writing. I had to trascribe it from a mirror. Also glad I don’t have to drive anywhere today!

© Elaine Stirling, 2014