How many today? Fewer
that is a good sign
but don’t get overly excited,
we’ve been down this road
before and we got lost
each time we did.
And while you are out there,
don’t be sure that you
can see where you are going,
for vision is iffy, and like
side view mirrors, things
appear closer than they are.
Don’t be despondent, you
are better off than many,
but better is a comparative
and that can turn to sheer
ice when you least expect it.
So go on, but go carefully,
your next fall might,
just might, kill you.
As you age, your vision changes,
and not merely that of your eyes,
for you necessarily become
near sighted about many things.
Of course you dread the fact that you
could be myopic if circumstances
conspire against you, barely able
to be IN and remember the moment.
Even those healthy take to mythology,
and astronomy, wishing they were
Titan, living life in retrograde, but no one
has yet managed to become Benjamin Button.
We sit in the waiting room,
for we have grown accustomed
to waiting for so many things,
not wanting to rush a life that
appears ever more finite in duration.
We stare at our phones, struggling
to see, to help bide the time, an irony
not lost for we are here because
our vision is problematic or worse.
Erasmus said the one-eyed man
is King in the land of the blind,
and many here hope for that
period of regency before they, too
become common citizens
of a land they hoped never to see.
Today we welcome the rain, hope
that the wheaty winter lawn will
show some other color under its care.
The birds ignore the clouds,
accept the rain, care little how
our lawn looks, their next meal
of always greater importance.
I am losing the vision in one eye,
know I may soon be king
of the country of the blind,
and sadly curse Erasmus
for his gift of proverb, one
that slipped off the tongue
when my eye could still see it.
We will welcome the sun tomorrow
or the day after, for too much
rain or sun demands change
and nothing is really ever
wholly within our control.
It is progressing, but that
should not come as a surprise to you,
for they told you it would happen
and you accepted that as a fact.
It is the speed at which it has progressed,
much faster than you imagined,
what was once clear, now vague
ever more amorphous, half already
effectively gone, and the other half?
I imagine what would happen, will
happen when the other begins
the same journey, nothing known
to impede it, and how the four
remaining senses might fill the abyss
that the departure of sight
will leave in its growing shadow.
As I stare out the window and watch
the snow slowly build on the limbs
of the now barren crab apple, painting
it with a whiteness that bears heavily,
giving the smaller branches a better
view of the ground in which their
fruit of the summer lies buried.
I am forced to wonder if the tree
continues to watch me, if its vision
is clouded by the snowy blanket
in which it wraps itself this day,
and if it does, what must it think
of someone so sedentary when it,
bearing its winter burden can still
dance gently in the morning wind.
You more easily remember
the birth of a grandchild
than his or her parent
whether from a memory
sharpened by age
or regular sleep
or by a vision
more acute for knowing
what to look for,
or simply a clinging
tightly to any symbol
of youth denied you.
It may be as well
that grandchildren see
you differently than parents
a hope for a long life
and the possibility of
one day being old
or someone whose mind
more closely resembles
in innocence and simplicity
or simply as adults
whose rules can be ignored
with no real consequence.
Nature has a way of applying
a perfect logic that eludes
its most complex creatures,
we claiming to be first among them.
Nature grants the housefly
a quite short life, but allows it
to see a thousand images at once,
a lifetime of vision in mere days.
The tortoise is consigned to crawl
along at a laggard’s pace, outrun
by other animals, who will be in
their graves in a tortoise’s middle age.
Birds must muck in the soil
for sustenance, or hunt small
creatures aground, but they have
the ample sky for a home.
Humans, well we have no such
luck, blind to all around us, rushing
always headlong into death, and only
dreaming of being free from earth’s grip.
Between now and eventually lies all of history. We are unable to see it
though it lies in our field of vision. That’s the problem, we only know
how to look backward. We are barely able to see where we are. It isn’t
that we don’t want to be here, merely that here is difficult to see, for
we have a tendency to block our vision. Imagine a map with an X or other
marker saying “You are Here.” Yet seeing that we know we are not there for
in that instant we will look down and see where we truly are. But the better
statement to the “you are here” sign is not to call it wrong, but rather
to simply ask it, how did you know. It will answer, your visit was history
lying between my now and my eventually.
As you slowly approach it
it grows perceptibly larger.
This does not surprise you,
for you are familiar with
the principles of physics.
What does surprise you is
that the details grow
ever less clear as you approach,
as though they retreat
under your slow advance.
You think this strange,
wonder what has gone wrong,
question your eyes, and
finally realize that the details
you saw were not there
that it all was, quite simply, what
your mind wished your eyes to see.