Change, community, Mindfulness, Poetry, spirit

Peripheral Vision

Peering Into the Void, Ladislav R. Hanka

The writing prompt says
start with the story of the woman in Taiwan who discovered bees living in her tear ducts.

The mind devises a series of terrors.
This is how we live, too many of us,
juddering just below the measured choreography of containment and routine.
Even when we stop cringing at every engine backfire
and carrying our keys like claws.
The illusion of safety becomes a prerequisite for volition,
so we manufacture it.

Right now, the dog lays curled on her bed by the back door.
A solitary cardinal calls with great gusto from the branch outside.
We let our attention belong to these named and knowable things
and tune out the shriek of sirens.

We’ve trained our senses to constrict, hardening into barricades
so now we barely register the ringing in our ears from so many years jammed in so close
to the screeching chatter, the litany of flaws, the crouching threats.
A tinnitus distorting the cry of power trying to gather
and carry itself into the streets.

Is it shield or hazard, that buzzing we hear?
What does our protection cost us?
Do we dare investigate what’s breeding down inside our tear ducts?

A woman at the party says she is saving up for lasik surgery
because glasses will be hard to come by after the apocalypse.
She must know the woman from Taiwan.
She too has decided the peril resides in her eyes.

Right now, the dog lays curled on her bed by the back door
and a breeze stirs the white pine clinging to what’s left
of a hill beside the sound wall
The tallest of the trees in this poor substitute for a forest
will fall as the freeway expands.
Midnight construction clang and shear, concrete annexing
burrow, marsh, and nest.

A breeze stirs the white pine
and we try to match gust and breath,
to mirror its apparent Zen, what we take for tranquility as its high branches bend.
The map of roots snaking under the construction zone
has already registered the weight piling on,
alerting the entire arboreal neighborhood to the danger afoot,
yet it keeps its limbs spread wide,
keeps drinking the sky.

Are we only here to save ourselves?
Do we keep our senses just sharp enough to survive,
narrow the range of all we love
and leave everything outside the lines
blurred, indistinct,
and not of us?

There is nothing more of us
than the dog curled on her bed by the door,
cardinal calling,
white pine swaying on as the excavators advance.
There is nothing more of us
than all of us here clinging to this precarious bit of rock.

White pine swaying,
our eyes recognize this dance
of resistance and futility, our eyes try
to send the message, to get it past the guards.

Let’s not blame the sting we feel on the pollen count.
It is not bees collecting there.
No laser or exterminator can do this for us.
Vision hurts.

Vision is ours
to earn.


Image: Ladislav R. Hanka, “Peering Into the Void”

2 thoughts on “Peripheral Vision”

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