VISION Poem by Jeffrey Harrison


I just got back from the eye doctor, who told me
I need bifocals. She put those drops in my eyes
that dilate the pupils, so everything has
that vaseline-on-the-lens glow around it,
and the page I'm writing on is blurred
and blinding, even with these sunglasses.
I'm waiting for the "reversing drops" to kick in
(sounds like something from Alice in Wonderland),
but meanwhile I like the way our golden retriever
looks more golden than ever, the way the black-eyed
Susans seem to break out of their contours, dilating
into some semi-visionary version of themselves,
and even the mail truck emanates a white light
as if it might be delivering news so good
I can't even imagine it. Of course it's just bills,
catalogues, and an issue of Time magazine
full of pictures of a flooded New Orleans
that I have to hold at arm's length to make out:
a twisted old woman sprouting plastic tubes
lies with others on an airport conveyor belt
like unclaimed luggage, and there's a woman feeding
her dog on an overpass as a body floats below.
Maybe we need some kind of bifocals
to take it all in—the darkness and the light,
our own lives and the lives of others, suffering
and joy, if it is out there—or something more
like the compound eyes of these crimson dragonflies
patrolling the yard, each lens focused on some
different facet of reality, and linked to a separate
part of the brain. We would probably go crazy.
In my own eyes with their single, flawed lenses,
the drops have almost worn off now, and my pupils
are narrowing down, adjusting themselves
to their diminished vision of the world.

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