Blind (1988)

By Peter Halstead

My shade has holes through which the day
Intrudes, an imaginary cloisonné

Where bits and pieces of the views
Ignore the bodies for the clues.

My blurry early morning stare
Fleshes in the parts not there

To put together nature’s lights
From punctures that the sun ignites:

Pinpoints linked into a maze
That feathers in the nights and days

The way pixels on a TV do,
When an image looks at you,

As circus barkers guess your age
By using crows’ feet as a gauge,

So that the outside’s rude debris
Springs from random filigree,

The planet’s bones, the forest’s limbs
Blinking from the window’s whims,

Not from any glazier’s feat,
But from the linen’s damaged sheet,

The very height of crêpe de Chine
Topped by dropouts in its screen,

Sight imprisoned in a lavaliere,
Sifted through a starstruck weir.

But the vision’s waking flaw
Is the one we seem to draw:

It’s only human to have pores
In the skin of Levolors,

And through its twinkling constellations
Shine the planet’s punctuations,

The cuneiform that lives
Behind the eyesight’s picky sieves,

Blind enough, but still seen-through
To underlying, ordinary shades of blue.

August 14th, 1988

September 29th and 30th, 2005

October 21st, 2005
rue de Varenne

September 2nd, 2021


I suppose it’s neither here nor there that the original version of this acquired a totally different character during its many rewrites and was then erased by an outraged computer program, and held incommunicado by another. The despair attached to such arbitrary intrusions from the cloud pales in comparison with the Psion’s revenge, which deleted an entire novel, with its flat Hudson Valley winters and dappled Central Park jogs at the end of a fine fall, the digital equivalent of leaving a Stradivarius in a taxi. (I rewrote the novel.)

My poems live at the mercy of RAM and ROM, computerized forms of dreams.

This is a stealth financial poem, dealing with “market inefficiencies,” wherein traders take advantage of disparities between conflicting visions of worth, as poets profit from seeing darkly in well-lit rooms.

My declining visual acuities in 2004 made me a great fan of dimness, dark northern climates, anything Norwegian, the long light evenings of Bergman’s Faroe Islands, the ominous Gothic skies of the film Van Helsing, the noctilucent auroras of solar storms and the phosphorescent

curtains of grim weather.

Later retinal and cataract operations brought me back to the clarity which we are persuaded is our due, but which I think misrepresents the distortions which many of us enjoy. My life has been myopic for long enough that I believe, with Monet, in trying to recapture the dim phantoms and blind visions of my more perceptive days.