>the shutting of eyes


“Ultimately — or at the limit — in order to see a photograph well, it is best to look away or close your eyes. ‘The necessary condition for an image is sight,’Janouch told Kafka; and Kafka smiled and replied: ‘We photograph things in order to drive them out of our minds. My stories are a way of shutting my eyes.”

– Roland Barthes – (Camera Lucida: Reflections on Photography)

** ** ** ** ** **

Before I knew of the above quote, I wrote 101, which accompanies the header photo of this blog.

She lets him inside her life the first time
he hikes Two Moon with her. Ice-jammed

Yellowstone, gnarled beaver dams, blonde stalks
of endless prairie waving as they walked.

He sets the pace along the river bank,
anxious, he teases, to get to where it turns pretty.

Oh Jiminy, she prays to her Montana god,
forgive him-he knows not what he says.

He’s from Oregon and only knows
green colors. He laughs out loud with her.

She tells him about moccasins, the fleeing
Nez Pierce slipping through these trees.

He talks about Bear Creek Hikers, the odds
of John Wayne wearing them, if only he still lived.

When the trail runs higher and the water cuts
the bank, they single file quietly — the sun leaning

on their backs as they round the river’s bend, a vista
point for them. Show him is the echo she sends out.

Her words strike against sandstone cliffs, skip across blue
water, settle into nested brush sleeping against washed rock.

A Chinook breath stirs when she explains to him
how beauty sneaks in when we close our eyes.


About redmitten

author of Cracking Geodes Open, Making Good Use of August, and The Peppermint Bottle. poetry editor for IthacaLit. website: https://toomuchaugust.wordpress.com

8 responses to “>the shutting of eyes

  1. >Amazing. And by chance I was listening to a song today by The Weepies, "All This Beauty," with the lyrics "you might have to close your eyes."

  2. >Hi Sherry,When my husband and I hiked in Yellowstone, so long ago I can't remember the name of the trail, I was amazed at the variety within an eight mile hike, through forest, and then alpine tundra. I love your poem. It has a calming effect on me, with beautiful lines like these: "Her words strike against sandstone cliffs, skip across blue water, settle into nested brush sleeping against washed rock."

  3. Nic Sebastian

    >love this, Sherry

  4. >i love the sun leaning on their backs. ah, the whole photography question. howard nemerov once said a person should look at things and not put a box in front of their eyes. his sister was the photographer diane arbus. yes. thank god beauty even manages to sneak in when we close our eyes.

  5. >Just close my eyes and I can see it all. Wonderful, sherry. Thanks.

  6. >Quite often, when a piece I'm working on isn't working, I go away from it for a few hours or days even. Backing away really does give you a different perspective. The picture of the red barn door is fabulous! p.s I love all of your old window photos on your picture blog. They make me want to go exploring abandoned houses.

  7. >Wow! You knock me out with your poems. I could live inside of this one.

  8. >Just lovely, and thank you for that Kafka quote.I hope Elisabeth noted it too.

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