I know, dear blog friends, that it’s been a LONG time (17 days, to be exact) since I’ve written a post. Where have I been? Well, we spent some time in the Hamptons–more on that later, and, actually I’ve been working a lot, walking a lot, reading a lot and collecting up some more poems to share.
I love this poem by Lisel Mueller…in part, because I am incredibly near-sighted and, without glasses or contact lenses, everything in my world looks like a Monet painting. I’ve gone through various phases of attempting to improve my vision–doing eye exercises, taking vitamins, etc. I even went through a period of not wearing any corrective lenses, including while driving–only in daylight–something I know you’ll find reassuring! With 20/400 vision and astigmatism, I have to say, I barely made a dent in sharpening my soft focus.
I got my first pair of glasses in the fourth grade. The frames were, get this, red “plaid” plastic. I remember distinctly how the world looked edgy and harsh with them on and soft and fuzzy without them. I remember how the yellow chalk on the green “black” board became suddenly intelligible; how colors seemed brighter and more distinct and how I wasn’t entirely sure that I liked this new in-focus world. In fact, for the first few weeks, I felt queasy and disoriented. I used to wonder who decided what constitutes “in-focus.”
MONET REFUSES THE OPERATION
Doctor, you say that there are no haloes
around the streetlights in Paris
and what I see is an aberration
caused by old age, an affliction.
I tell you it has taken me all my life
to arrive at the vision of gas lamps as angels,
to soften and blur and finally banish
the edges you regret I don’t see,
to learn that the line I called the horizon
does not exist and sky and water,
so long apart, are the same state of being.
Fifty-four years before I could see
Rouen cathedral is built
of parallel shafts of sun,
and now you want to restore
my youthful errors: fixed
notions of top and bottom,
the illusion of three-dimensional space,
from the bridge it covers.
What can I say to convince you
the Houses of Parliament dissolve
night after night to become
the fluid dream of the Thames?
I will not return to a universe
of objects that don’t know each other,
as if islands were not the lost children
of one great continent. The world
is flux, and light becomes what it touches,
becomes water, lilies on water,
above and below water,
becomes lilac and mauve and yellow
and white and cerulean lamps,
small fists passing sunlight
so quickly to one another
that it would take long, streaming hair
inside my brush to catch it.
To paint the speed of light!
Our weighted shapes, these verticals,
burn to mix with air
and changes our bones, skin, clothes
to gases. Doctor,
if only you could see
how heaven pulls earth into its arms
and how infinitely the heart expands
to claim this world, blue vapor without end.
- LISEL MUELLER -