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Winter 2001

Echo and Narcissus

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Poor love-struck Echo, stuck with repeating
everything he said. He might
have thought he deserved it,
to have a nymph for a girlfriend, who’d confirm

everything he said; he might
have loved how she mirrored him,
a girlfriend who’d say You’re pretty
when he told her she was pretty,

who’d love him more than her mirror.
Not that they had mirrors in those days;
that was the problem. Anyway, she was pretty,
but he wasn’t interested in nymphs.

If only they’d had mirrors in those days
he wouldn’t have drowned in that reflecting pool,
finding it more interesting than nymphs.
But maybe he’d have beat his head against a mirror

and killed himself anyway, pool or no pool.
No free will in those days—it was all the gods.
You could beat your head against your fate, but still,
if you were Narcissus, you’d end up a white flower

stuck in the ground with no will, plucked or trampled by gods,
and someone would say it was deserved,
for beauty to come down to a white flower,
a poor echo, and someone’s love stuck

in the ground, the ground, the ground, the ground.

—Kim Addonizio

Kim Addonizio, who lives in San Francisco, is the author of several collections of poetry, including The Philosopher’s Club and Tell Me.


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