I fell in love with Jorie Graham's poetry several years ago and I suppose I had her poem, For a Friend Going Blind, in my unconscious as I shaped this photo collage after a really frustrating experience at my eye doctor's (I'm on the third lens prescription in less than a week - they're having trouble getting it right!)
Since I depend so much on my sense of sight, it weighs heavy on me that I am losing my vision ... slowly but surely ... I am not actually going totally blind, and I don't intend to trivialize blindness ... but it sure feels that way sometimes. I do have empathy for people with macular degeneration and other progressive eye/vision problems who eventually have to rely much more heavily on their other senses. This experience is forcing me to explore other ways of seeing -- to explore the senses that are beyond the usual 5 senses. And Jorie's poem is a stepping stone towards that goal. I hope you find it as powerful and moving as I do.
To a Friend Going Blind
Today, because I couldn’t find the shortcut through,
I had to walk this town’s entire inner
perimeter to find
where the medieval walls break open
in an eighteenth century
arch. The yellow valley flickered on and off
through cracks and the gaps
for guns. Bruna is teaching me
to cut a pattern.
Saturdays we buy the cloth.
She takes it in her hands
like a good idea, feeling
for texture, grain, the built-in
limits. It’s only as an afterthought she asks
and do you think it’s beautiful?
Her measuring tapes hang down, corn-blond and endless,
from her neck.
When I look at her
I think Rapunzel,
how one could climb that measuring,
that love. But I was saying,
I wandered all along the street that hugs the walls,
a needle floating
on its cloth. Once
I shut my eyes and felt my way
along the stone. Outside
is the cashcrop, sunflowers, as far as one can see. Listen,
the wind rattles in them,
a loose worship
seeking an object,
an interruption. Sara,
the walls are beautiful. They block the view.
And it feels rich to be
inside their grasp.
When Bruna finishes her dress
it is the shape of what has come
to rescue her. She puts it on.
poem by Jorie Graham
from her book, Erosion, published by Princeton Univ Press
Poetry Thursday folks, I found a couple of very useful and inspiring websites I wanted to share with you. One is the Favorite Poem Project. Check out the archive of poems that are favorites of ordinary people and writers, both. And the videos are really inspiring to watch!
And Voices from the Prairie for a slice of the midwestern USA and a poet's viewpoint.
Lastly, an inspiration to me ... is this artist's book by Susan Angebranndt illustrating Jorie Graham's "For a Friend ..." poem. Too bad it's out of print. It's absolutely gorgeous!
Thanks to Liz Elayne in Seattle for starting the Poetry Thursday project. It's probably my favorite ongoing online art/writing project ever.