When I Open My Eyes

When I open my eyes,
I believe that I can
See things as they are,
Neither beautiful, nor hideous, simply
A landscape opens before me,
Like I'm flying over desert and mountains,
My vision unhindered by windows or walls.
Beneath the eye, stretch vast levels on levels of living, breathing
Order stirred by mysterious sentience:
Each rock, each cloud, each tree and shrub,
All things which walk and run,
Every galaxy even, and each atom
Are laughing, mourning, striving,
Caught uncomprehending in the chaotic choreography
Of an invisible dance-master.
When you close your eyes, reach out into your depths.
There is something stirring in us all,
With each breath and each heart-beat,
A yearning which few can name.
I think it is
To be transformed in life.
To survive is never enough.
You can feel it, can't you?
Ever after your triumphs, there is still a need
For something more.
Some men have called this our curse,
But I say, be friends with your desire!
Nurture it with fine ideals and cultivate its taste.
Drink and savor the world!
Each new experience has its own flavor, its own aroma:
We love the sweet, learn from the bitter,
Are goaded by the salty and the pungent.
The stench of injustice brings on revulsion;
The scent of perfume recalls a beautiful woman or
A warm summer night.
Breathing the scents of the world you choose to inhabit,
Feeling the weight of each and all of your past decisions,
Your desire becomes your conscience,
Grumbling discontent at a tyrant master.
Your desire speaks!
The air is alive with chatter and song.
All that moves sets air in motion,
Imbues the world with energy and music.
Would you be silent in the midst of this symphony?
Sing for us!
Your voice is beautiful
Like the whispering winds, or the waters
Which chisel rock into majestic canyons and valleys.
What new worlds will you make for me
In words?
It is in words that I, the poet, snare visions, feelings, and fragrances.
In words I've experienced the world
Too long perhaps;
My metaphors become worn and cliched,
My analogies tired and cold.
Perhaps I should step out of myself awhile,
Absorb more of the world into me.
Such is the counsel of my desire,
Restless subterranean angel,
Like a kinder, beneficent Mephistopheles.
And so, I, like a modern Faust, listen to and feel out my needs;
Seeking to understand the world
I look out over uncharted horizons.
What do I seek if not the answer to my Desire?
And yet sometimes
I truly think I can see things as they are.
What they mean might be different for me,
Or perhaps we share some of the same visions,
The same models and perspectives,
But there is an undeniable constancy in the world;
When I open my eyes,
The order I see persists.

George Chadderdon © 1995