At bedtime I used to hear of Mongoose the Magician
Who, in my mind, looked pretty much like my father
(When I was three, he was a handsome man indeed
To me, if not the world at large). Mongoose had a son
Called, at my suggestion, Rangoon. My small imagination
Decided Rangoon’s mother’s name was Mrs. Mongoose.
Though possessed of great and varied powers, Mongoose
Had trouble making a living. He was often out of work
And sometimes had to disclaim his magic, as when
He pretended to be a scientist to get a place
With a Polar expedition. During the Arctic winter
His magic froze; when the spring thaw finally came
Six months of spells took effect at once. (The Aleutians
May still be an island short.). Once, he conjured from a mirror
Another self who insisted he was the real Mongoose
The two Mongeese dueled but, being quite evenly matched,
Reduced themselves to two piles of neatly folded clothes.
Rangoon, I’m sorry to say, was no help at all then.
Luckily, Mrs. Mongoose unerringly went to one set,
Saying that of course she knew her own husband.
He kissed her, grateful to be back. But ever after
He was uncertain as to which of him he really was.
These days, looking into mirrors, I also pause.