A box wherefrom
Insides too huge
For a tiny item’s
Last refuge,

Like a planet in space,
As far as is,
Lost in its case,
A pair of glasses,

Whose world grows wide
Through heavy lenses,
Myopic, four-eyed;
Magnifying hence is

A feature of sight,
Where space just suffices
The matrix of light,
And eyepieces need twice as

Much distance to see
Their small paradises
And focus obsessively
Heedless to sizes,

Where creatures eye
Their panopticon pen,
Then multiply
The scenery again,

Until their desires
Get out of hand
And kaleidoscope fires
Prism the land

From hundreds of facets
Like the eyes of a fly,
So that spectacles’ assets
Surfeit the sky:

Short-sighted empires
Increase when divided,
Which sometimes requires
Being far-sighted—

Our vision is grown
With postage pending,
Strewn by its own
Boundless sending.


A friend of ours had left two pairs of glasses behind after a lovely Easter weekend, and I mailed them back in a box much too large for them. Glasses need more room, I reasoned, as magnifying sight lessens space.

The point was the revenge of the nearsighted on the world: in our blindness lies our vision. I think of wide-eyed children in paradise, or myself when I was young, where everything seemed larger than it was: vast parks became, on revisiting, small yards.

Sight is a function of experience and we, lost in the large boxes, the camera obscura of our houses, grow into the spaces we are given, by continuing to look.

Tippet Alley
August 27th, 2003

October 25th, 2021