Anon, who wrote so many poems without signing them, was often a woman.

— Virginia Woolf

Sarah Fawn Montgomery


June 28, 2016




And witnesses the world

exactly as it is, but in reverse.

The stone walls of the room

seem the same, except now

it appears the door is to the left,

cold creeping in from the cracks.

The low cot rests in the other corner

with the wool blanket he sewed

last fall alongside a dozen men,

each a hunched version of the other.


A candle reflects shadows scuttling,

but he should not fear,

what with the crucifix on one wall—

now the other, what deception!—

carved muscles twisting with resolve,

the halo glossed in purest gold.

The monk drifts asleep each night

staring up at the feet dangling

over his face as though he is a fish

easily distracted by the blood of sacrifice.


After tending the weedy garden,

kneading bread dough until soft,

and sweeping out the church,

he removes the mirror hidden

beneath his bed like a glossy pond.

Leaving it flat on the cold floor

he bends over like prayer,

closer to his image made from God.

His mouth opens and closes

like he is caught on a lure.


He places a fingertip to the illusion

as a reminder that it is easy

to be fooled by inversion.

Urgency bends the likeness

and the feet dangling backward,

the story shifting slightly sinister,

the idol becoming a charlatan,

world-weary under false thorns.

Resolve reaffirmed, the monk banishes

the mirror away once more.


He lifts his finger only when it is hidden,

unsure, when he does, what is right or real anymore.



Sarah Fawn Montgomery holds an MFA in creative nonfiction from California State University-Fresno, where she was an editorial assistant for the literary magazine The Normal School. She also holds a PhD from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where she teaches and has served as Prairie Schooner’s Nonfiction Assistant Editor for the last five years. She is the author of The Astronaut Checks His Watch (Finishing Line Press). Her essays have been listed as notable in Best American Essays for the past several years, and her poetry and prose have appeared in various journals, including Confrontation, Crab Orchard Review, DIAGRAM, Fugue, Georgetown Review, The Los Angeles Review, Natural Bridge, Nimrod, North Dakota Quarterly, Puerto del Sol, The Pinch, Ruminate, Southeast Review, Terrain, Zone 3 and others.



The truth may be stretched thin, but it never breaks, and it always surfaces above lies, as oil floats on water.

—Cervantes, Don Quixote

© 2016 The Indianola Review