Look at that goldenrod! Blue-green when I patrolled
a week ago, this week it nods in gold,
bright gold, and no one noticed it go by.
My old dog twists around to gnaw her thigh
and nab a flick of fleas. Too late. Pursued
by what cannot be grasped, our thought will find
no path to light except through interludes
of darkness. Where’s the center of the mind?
Think of my dark-haired architect, upstairs,
whose buildings, stretched to measure for her clients,
somehow disarm all structural defiance
by taking place in shapes entirely hers.
When vision grasps a volume to enclose
within a granite skin, its eyes expose
a set of shapes (in fact as in illusion)
by mixing space with time. Doors, by exclusion,
admit events. The windows’ glassy face,
abstracting light from heat, defines a space.
To saturate an emptiness in time
the access may be trivial as rhyme
that chalks faint boundaries for the unheard
and seals attention in a single word.
So Polyphemus’ vision—as he groped his burred
and greasy sheep and willed his hands to bind
the form of Nobody, the man who gored him blind,
while his own animals were trotting past,
his favorite old ram the very last—
would harden in his skull, as was foretold,
helpless to reckon blue-and-green from gold.
This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 5 Number 9, on page 52
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