BLINDNESS AS A KIND OF JOY
The heart an echo chamber,
the rhythm improvised
from one predictable beat to another.
[Theodore Roethke wrote a wonderful poem,”The Waking”,
containing the following line: “And learn by going where
to go.” The above is perhaps my attempt at the
same sort of thing.]
Listening to the great composers
is some sort of connection: I actually weep
that you cannot listen any more.
But at least I’m gesturing to your shade,
and can imagine it nodding!
I have entered the zone of your accessibility,
and can imagine you acknowledging this,
being grateful even,
appreciate the risks I’m taking.
And I? Well, I feel light-headed,
as when one takes one’s chances with God,
not sure he exists.
Yet I feel A-1.
No premonitory twinges,
all functions go!
If anything, I sigh with relief
that what I have released does not overwhelm me,
but sloshes around, soothing me.
I am buoyed up on this so far gentle torrent.
And when I weep, as I do,
it is, first, because you cannot hear this anymore;
later it’s that I am afloat, not drowned,
relief turning to gratitude,
a survivor’s tears.
to a friend who had suffered a stroke
You sit, blinking intelligently:
When is somebody going to do something?
But you are patient, or resigned.
You look around, trying to distract yourself,
waiting for us to get organized,
giving us all the time in the world,
not wishing to embarrass us.
You let us manhandle you,
shift your legs, press on a jerking knee,
stuff a pillow behind your head,
and look around, as though it had nothing to do with
as though it would be pointless sharing your thoughts
Like fools we busy ourselves about you,
and meanwhile you’ve the look of a saint or martyr,
utterly inaccessible, indifferent.
Our faces swing above your head,
but you make no move to dodge or butt them away.
Mostly you stare at the interstices,
though with no particular attention.
You have passed through our ranks and come out ahead,
and all you do is blink.
Are you counting, calculating?
Are you solving a cosmic mystery?
We expect you to at last look up,
sigh, rise to your feet, nod and mutter:
“Alright, we can all go now. “
What is so pressing elsewhere?
How may we capture your attention?
We’re reduced to talking among ourselves.
We have a go at reviewing the situation,
Then we begin all over again,
stroking, squeezing your hand, fingering your face,
peering into your eyes that blink regularly.
Now & again you squeeze a hand,
scratch your cheek, touch your jaw,
even adjust your glasses, pulling on an eyelid.
Now & again you make an imperious gesture,
as though summoning someone,
as though calling a meeting to order,
as though conducting an orchestra.