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Published: Sun Jul 1 2007
Diego Isaias Hernández Méndez, Convertiendse en Characoteles / Sorcerers Changing into Their Animal Forms (detail), 2013, oil on canvas. Arte Maya Tz’utujil Collection.
Blind Sight

What moves in the corner of your eye
is a twitch of your right hand, is a branch
falling toward you, is that neighbor dog

who’s bitten you twice, is your love
packing the break-up suitcase.
Morning brought a transit of Venus,

but we couldn’t look. Bright sun
and reasons for living where we are
came too hard to decipher.

What we see and don’t
takes unknown paths
to get beyond us. It leaves us blind.

So we watch the shimmer of trees, a lake.
We desire the ocean. Joy is wanting
but not knowing

eternity. Anything else frightens.
A cliff drops below
with sickening attraction.

We turn away and remember
what we never saw. Let love
be blind, they say, repeatedly

to our satisfaction and dismay.
A child new born can’t determine
but feels through its skin

touch that will be mother.
Beneath the deep-voiced eventual
father, eyes so large

take in smiles, frowns, burning faces
gone in smoke. Terrible
possibilities invade the nearly blind.

A hand moves up and down, which might
feed you. Which might smother you,
as if seeing clearly were better,

would make it stop.

The most recent book from John Bensko, Sea Dogs: Stories, is from Graywolf Press. His poetry books include The Iron City (University of Illinois Press), The Waterman’s Children (University of Massachusetts Press), and Green Soldiers (Yale University Press). He teaches in the MFA program at the University of Memphis, along with his wife, the fiction writer Cary Holladay. (updated 8/2007)

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