The Mask of Narcissus

Dennis Saleh

The world is fescennine and vermilion
with dusk’s lurid insistence

The chalice of the moon lifts
to the obvolute manner of the colors

wrapping round into night
relieved at last they are gone

It is not surprising to find one’s self
lost at the skirt of evening fall

The moon concentrates one
like a mirror

But here is the myth of Narcissus
What he would give to not be himself

to slip into the mother-of-pearl
and become white a canvas

become less himself and more
a painting of a mirror

The mirror is the mask
Narcissus fixes himself in

and turns round to the world
but do not ask him to sign it

He loves no one Not himself
Sleep searches the night

through in silence for remedy
to his dreams but in vain

He stands before a great sea
which mutes sullenly

Echo at the far end of the water
says with the waves Narcissus

Dennis Saleh

Dennis Saleh’s poetry, prose, and artwork have appeared widely in magazines and collections, including Blackbird, International Poetry Review, New Millennium Writings, and Psychological Perspectives, as well as the forthcoming poetry anthologies, Reeds and Rough Places Plain. He has read from his poetry, and a novel in progress set in ancient Egypt, at the Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum in San Jose, California.


The world is fescennine and vermilion with dusk’s lurid insistence The chalice of the moon lifts to the obvolute manner of the colors wrapping round into night relieved at last they are gone It is not surprising to find one’s self lost at the skirt of evening fall The moon concentrates one like a mirror …

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