“Looking, Then Listening” by Robert Vivian

21 March 2014 on Nonfiction   Tags:
Looking up I saw that the sky was naked except for a few strands of clouds like trailing threads of smoke or ether that wanted so much to shine and looking I saw that the moon was almost gone, almost faded come morning but still holding on to its carved valleys of stone that have stared back so long from its ancient stack of cairns and looking I saw the tops of trees as a threshold awakening and point of disembarking between this world and the next in breathtaking leap of air whose grasp cannot be kenned and those skeletal fingers so delicate and brush-like wanting only to touch the stars and looking I wondered what my eyes were for and if they were meant for brighter and clearer seeing that went beyond what could be seen and closing my eyes I looked for hues of brightness velveted inside my eyelids and I opened my eyes again born into the world of vibrant color and form and looking I saw so much, so far and close up and all around in panoramic display and I did not need glasses or telescope, microscope or binoculars, did not need hawk eyes or radar to see that what I saw was good and manifest of glory and my vision was not besmirched by over-wanting, over-needing but purified and cleansed by a higher lens rinsed by a river up north in the woods, and looking I was waylaid and gobsmacked by motes that could not be counted as they floated in their tiny parachutes, each one an angel whose message was lighter than air but also informed by air like a cupped hand to an ear in intimate whisper and abiding, soft disclosure smelling of mint or clover from the soft breath of a loved one which cannot be seen or depicted by any image, only the voice in a dream that has so much to say so dearly that it hardly says anything at all for the pregnant silence its speech becomes and then looking became a kind of listening, and seeing became a kind of speech and then my eyes fell into my mouth and were covered by my tongue like a warm scroll that would hold and protect them as I waited in listening, watching and waiting in the dark and I was saved from myself, I was saved from the beauty of the world as I waited for the words to come so I could speak above my hidden eyes.

Robert Vivian is the author of The Tall Grass Trilogy, Water And Abandon, and two collections of meditative essays, Cold Snap As Yearning and The Least Cricket Of Evening. He's currently working on a collection of dervish essays.


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