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

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

Whose world grows wide
Through heavy lenses,
Puffed and 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,
Focus obsessively
Heedless to sizes,

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

Until their desires
Get out of hand
And kaleidoscope fires
Bezel from land,

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

Myopic empires
Increase when divided,
Which sometimes requires
Being farsighted—

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

Tippet Alley
April 21st, 2003


Our friend Betsy Holdsworth 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 initial poem I sent with the glasses was dashed off and obscure. What I think of as poems are sometimes notes for poems. The last stanza had something in it that needed explaining:

They have to eye
Their optic pen,
Then magnify
Their find again.
I tend to follow a thought through to its ultimate consequences for the universe, drawing my cautionary tale, the sure sign of a bore.
In this case, the revenge of the nearsighted on the world: in our blindness lies our vision. I think of wide-eyed children in paradise, or myself as a child, where everything seemed larger than it was: vast parks became, on revisiting, small yards. So sight is a function of experience and we, lost in large boxes, grow into the spaces we are given, by continuing to look.