Thirteen Ways of Seeing
Under the microscope
gram positive cocci in chains
like purple add-a-beads.
In the hospital bed
the modesty of human flesh is
except for occasional little islands of skin,
soon to be the freshest wounds.
Without skin the patient is
hairless and bumpy and bloody and raw and
extremely vulnerable to infection.
There is no inside and outside,
only body without flesh.
Husband! Lend me your eyes
so that I might see what you see
and since seeing is an act of cognition,
you might as well throw in your brain.
Perhaps I will slip on your values as well,
to have a truer sense of your aesthetic.
But you can keep your emotions,
for I know them already, and frankly
your repertoire is limited.
I am not wearing my glasses
because I prefer the mish-mash
blur of colors
to the delineated definitions
and repetitive patterns
that are so sharp so stimulating
and sting my eyes to tears.
A woman with a gold monocle
sits alone among her books
and takes pickled herring with her tea.
The crack across my mirror
presents a dilemma
over or under,
or hiding in between?
Generations of girls have used a mirror
becoming cartographers of the landscapes
of their bodies.
Now there are textbooks with anatomically correct terms.
vagina, labia majora, labia minora, clitoris.
But my little girl will always have
a door that locks
and a mirror
and perhaps one day she will ask her lover
“Darling, shall I draw you a map?”
Everybody knows what atoms look like
despite the fact that perhaps only
the severely autistic
can actually see them.
Little pink sleep goblins dart around my peripheral vision,
and I hear her call my name from very far away
with the inflection of a question.
I live at the very bottom of the sea
and peek out with a periscope.
The constant rise and fall of the waves
the frequent toss, change of direction
just watching makes me seasick.
So I descend the ladder of the observation post
and burrow deeply in the lovely mud.
Through the window I see
a quiet playground
no children, only
one toy dump truck
on it’s side in the sand
The doctor says: There is this
that has somethinged
in your husband’s brain. OK?
Let me know if there’s anything I can do.
The nurse translates: your husband’s brain
is full of blood,
big as a grapefruit,
the skull is hard
and will not break or stretch or swell,
and his brain has squished down
through the hole in the back of the neck,
where his spinal cord should be.
He will die.
We cannot fix this, but
do you happen to know if he wanted
to donate his organs?
Please know that he did not suffer,
that there is nothing you could have done.
Is there anybody you would like me to call?
Through my telescope in the corner apartment
on the forth floor
a beautiful woman who lives with her cat,
sits, reads and drinks tea.
because she is
as lovely as any woman
that I have ever seen.
The Voyager spacecraft photographed the Earth
from a distance
of six billion kilometers, a Pale Blue Dot.
In context, it turns out
that the sum of all we know
is no greater
than a spec of dust
floating along a sunbeam.