Chalky smudges danced
across the big black wall
unreadable. Clarity
grew only in the very near
and inner space.
Therapy was called-for.
Since then I have worn
windows on my face.

So came a sharper world
cleanly to be judged by
yes or no; each thing quite
separate from the other.
Words to prove it so
were written on the wall
in ruled straight lines
of signs all in a row.

Still, by naked sight
the edges softened,
sometimes even disappeared.
And bright small prisms—
oh, so good—of teardrops
cornered in the eye
made all things clearer
than correctives ever could.

Perhaps some visions need
to be correct, clean-cut,
while others only need to seem.
By day, I usually wear
what is expected, but
by night I take my glasses off.
I’ve never needed them
to see a dream.

32 responses »

  1. Ah, I well remember the white unreadable smudges Cynthia. Once again you have managed to turn a simple idea into a terrific poem, especially those last two lines; they are just exquisite! And your reading of it was just fabulous! Have you ever done any acting, or has your depth of expression come from teaching? Either way I wish I had it! πŸ˜„
    My eyesight is rubbish even with glasses. Lots of scars from a long term condition now thoughtt to be connectedt to MS.

    • Hello Christine….maybe you also remember that Dorothy Parker quip: “Men seldom make passes at girls who wear glasses…” Well that didn’t turn out to be true, did it! I went completely blind in one eye, suddenly, as a young adult and was told it might be a precursor to MS. After a time, sight returned, and so far no MS, but who knows? The eyes do seem very much related to other ailments of the organism, especially as we age. Thank you for your good words, as always. I’m especially happy that you like the audio so much. It was an experiment but has turned into a habit!

      • Yes, optic neuritis is very often the first symptom people get which leads to diagnosis of MS. I have had it too, but it wasnt my first symptom. And of course there are all sorts of other reasons why someone might get optic neuritis. Also there are people who have what is known as benign MS where you have one symptom/attack and then never have another one and MS lays dormant. Im so pleased you havent had to suffer this beggar of a condition; but hey ho, we get what we are given dont we whether its illness or other challenges in life. Im making the most of it!! πŸ˜„

  2. Journeyintopoetry nailed this one – another winner. My husband always tells how his new glasses gave him the realization that trees had leaves! My revelation was that there were clocks everywhere telling me the time. I empathize with Journey, for old age plays tricks with eyesight and even the precious glasses (several pairs for different functions) are often inadequate. Add to that the fact that now, of course, we know what we are missing. I agree about dreams -what a blessing!

    • Now that’s a good chuckle, your Dan’s realizing that trees had leaves, and your own discovery of ubiquitous clocks….sounds like a wonderful delusional world of Monet impressionism and Dali surrealism came to a rude, banal end in practical reality. As you say, though, it is a blessing that we still have our dreams…. thanks, Jane.

  3. Oh my, this is Spectacular, Cynthia. I love “others only need to seem”–fabulous! And the ending–ahhh, yes, I don’t need my glasses to see dreams either. Fine job, Bravo.

  4. I join the standing ovation, Cyn! Just a gem, this one, as so many of your offerings! But I just love this one that captures and transmits your experience inner and outer, so beautifully! And on top of the exquisite excellence, I can now hear your voice sing this song! Thank you! I needed this today in a way I know you can imagine. Weather is deep November here this Midwest week, when I am longing for New England blue skies, clear crisp air and brilliant reds, oranges and yellows!
    Thanks you!

    • Julie! So nice to hear from you! Thanks, as always for your supportive response. I’ve been adding audio to the posts for the past few months now, and enjoying doing so. How did you get to November weather already? We’ve had a good, typical N.E. fall so far…I pray, for us both, that winter won’t be a repeat of last year. It was the first time ever that I began to understand the snowbirds who flee to Florida for the season. I’m so glad you stopped by. Please keep in touch. πŸ™‚

  5. And here you take the most ordinary and turn it into the extraordinary – spectacles! Wearing windows on my face, since I was 7 years old. Enjoyed your read this morning.

  6. As a person who has worn glasses since first or second grade, it was easy to relate to this poem. As a matter of fact, you took me back to elementary schools. But I must say that your ending surprised me … but a pleasant surprise that’s also meaningful and thought provoking.

    • Hello Frank….yup, it was in the second grade, for me. I ventured into the world of contact lenses back when they were the early, rigid kind but went back to the goggles for the simple reason that you can take them on and off so easily. Not sure about the science of it, but I intuit that contacts–even the newest ones– keep the eye in one kind of rigid focus without respite and somehow that’s not a good thing…..sometimes impressionism is a good thing! Thanks for reading and commenting!

  7. I’ve had glasses since the second grade too! Completely agree that sometimes it’s a relief to take them off and let the world be soft about the edges for a while.

  8. I’ve also enjoyed reading all the “tags” on this poem: orthodoxy, learning, duality, convention, perception, vision.

    And speaking of duality and complexity, some dreams, or ways of “seeming” (visions), are easier than others on one’s psychology. I know that over the years I have come to accept many a seeming way…but there are just some realities that are somehow different and much more difficult to “see” clearly through, or in. Isn’t there always a part of our minds that says, “seeming” or “dreaming” when we are there? But what happens when that deeper, stabilizing awareness is lost, and something more is shaken, broken? I only mention these things because your poem seems to “play” with a much deeper theme, that of perception. It is not a duality at all. I have learned about that world of dream…for me, it’s as though there is also a pair of inner glasses that if shaken and broken make that world for which you remove your glasses (in this poem) very unstable and confusing.

    I’d like to know the dreams for which you remove your glasses, Cynthia! : ) I cannot sleep again tonight!

    • Anna, I don’t find my poems in the bottomless pit of self- psychoanalysis or in obedience to the template of some theory or theology.. My writing begins in language itself and its many figures as I deal with the ordinary things of life. It is the power of the language we hold in common that allows us to read so much into a poem after it’s written—if we want to. The dreams for which I remove my glasses are the ones that occur when I’m asleep. Peace.

      • Yes, I really enjoyed your poem and where it took me! Especially the ending. Thank you for the “peace”. And peace to you, too.

  9. Oh those glasses! What a lovely poem πŸ™‚ Like you, I only take my glasses of at night but my eyes don’t see as well with them on as they used to, even after some surgeries. Still I am glad to see what I think is enough. And for what I see in words, I don’t need glasses either πŸ™‚

    • Oh yes, I’m with you on what can be seen in words, Ina! And thank you so much for taking the time to come and read, now when there is so much to see, beyond spectacles….beyond words…:-) ❀

  10. I take from your very clever poem Cynthia that there is more than one way of seeing, I like that idea very much, and it is more true than most of us realize! We can get very fixated on eyes and what they see, but not realizing we don’t see at all. I think even Jesus made a comment on that!! πŸ˜‰ I do believe the mind sees in many ways.

    My mother went completely blind very quickly due to a brain tumour, many years ago now, it was real shock to her and all of us, but it was amazing how quickly she found another way of seeing. And interesting you mentioned not needing glasses to see a dream – of course, dreams never need eyes! And my mother used to have quite vivid and colourful dreams for someone who could no longer see.

    My body has let me down many times, especially in my young adult life, I have suffered some minor eyesight problems due to illness, but very temporary, changeable sight problems, more annoying than unbearable, and nothing that spectacles could do anything for. I remember being given some once, they caused a worse problem than I already had, (frightening blurred eyesight) they were quickly returned in disgust to the opticians! Apart from that I’ve been very lucky in that area, and far less problems with eyes in the last 15 years.

    Wishing you much strength in all your ways of seeing Cynthia. I’m sure you won’t be missing much! πŸ™‚

    • What a blow that must have been, when your mother went blind, Suzy. I have always been fascinated by the way blind people seem to make up for lost sight by a heightening of the other senses. There’s an ad for a new prescription drug lately on TV here that speaks to the fact that sometimes the sightess have trouble with circadian rhythms and can’t sleep at night or stay awake in the daytime. I hadn’t thought of that before!
      But yes, vision is indeed more than eyesight….it’s even amusing how two or three people might witness the same event and come away with such different “eye witness” accounts. Glasses are a good thing for functioning in the everyday world–if they’re needed–but lucky you: both eyesight and vision seem to be working beautifully! πŸ™‚

  11. “Since then I have worn
    windows on my face.” This had me chuckling. And this: “I’ve never needed them
    to see a dream.” made me think that we are more than what we appear.

  12. Cynthia, I can relate, having needed glasses since 3rd grade when the words on the blackboard became blurry. Didn’t need them full time till high school when my favorite teacher warned me that squinting would cause eye-wrinkles at an early age. Oh no!! I was aghast, and decided wearing glasses all the time was better than getting premature wrinkles.

    But like you, there are times when I enjoy the view without them – snowflakes are larger and fluffier, and holiday lights are so much bigger and softer when they’re blurred. And looking into someone’s eyes is much more direct and meaningful…. It’s a whole different world, and so often more beautiful.

    And you’re right – we don’t need glasses to see our dreams. Another one to love!

    • It’s interesting, Betty, to hear of so many who discovered they needed glasses in the second and third grade. What’s that about? Unfortunately, no one gave me that warning about squinting, although I’m not sure if my furrowed brow is the result of that, or frowning –at the world in general. πŸ™‚ Like you, I enjoy that impressionist world, once in a while, when I take them off…not sure all this internet stuff is good for the old peepers, though. Thank you for taking the time to read and comment!

  13. Brilliant Cynthia. You’ve taken us on a journey of vision. There are ways of “seeing” and summed it up beautifully with the last line and some beauty is “seen” without sight. I do love this. πŸ™‚ There are people with 20/20 vision who cannot see what is all around them…

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