Dimly Perceived

Dimly Perceived

You would think a person going blind
would turn inward; at least set sights
on reknowned beauty,
but I find myself staring fixedly
at the bright blink of dishes I splash
at a scratched white sink,
without thinking overmuch
of either the timeless or
my soul,

and often on my train–
the Hudson line–which passes through
one of the world’s great riverscapes, I escape
into a teeny screen, its gleaned print winking
at my squint–

which is the gist of this–
that I am not so much looking for an answer,
as an answer back,
a response to my blurred toss
in this postmordial, mortal, pond,
an acknowledgement that you (meaning me)
are still here/really here/here now
and that I (meaning you) hear you (that’s me

the problem perhaps being
that the Hudson and its hills don’t always speak
in decipherable tones,
while the screen knows well
how to spell my name;
the dirty dishes too are personally insistent–
”you missed that crud on my back, Blindie!”
one important vowel sound off
what I was called in my heyday–

though, of course, there’s a part of me,
the part that would turn like a tree to sun
rather than a dog to hand’s pat,
that knows I should look
at mountains more,
that they might teach me
about staying power and what it’s like
to have rocks for eyes,

That I should look out to the river too
as it washes
its both sides.


For Real Toads, Tuesday Open Link.  (Above a pic from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC, and below, some divide in the Hudson River, taken from the train–you can see train light at the top and track at the bottom.  All rights reserved.) 


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26 Comments on “Dimly Perceived”

  1. Raivenne Says:

    I was SO happy to read ” hope it’s not true poem,” in your tag. Going blind is one of my biggest fears. Funny, I often imagine dishes chastising me when I miss a spot as well. That being said, and as a native New Yorker your words has me wanting to pay a little more attention to my own landscape.

    • ManicDdaily Says:

      Ha. Well, my vision is very poor, so it’s a true fear, but I hope technology will improve in that area. k.

      On Tue, Mar 17, 2015 at 8:58 AM, ManicDDaily wrote:


  2. Kerry O'Connor Says:

    It is not simply a literal loss of sight which threatens these days, but the way too many of us have become obsessed with the small screens, forgetting the bigger picture.

  3. coalblack Says:

    Rocks for eyes. What a blistering image that is.

  4. hedgewitch Says:

    Yes, I think that myth about blindness looking inward is a bit twisted–the less clearly we see, the more perhaps we yearn for the obvious–perhaps when even that is gone, then the invisible realms become inevitable…though here you are not really talking about ‘blind seers’–an oxymoron that is a bit on the defiant side–but about ignoring the things that are inhumanly beautiful, the mountains and river, for the very human things that affirm our most powerful connections: “…that I am not so much looking for an answer,
    as an answer back..” which you underline in the I/you passage. I find the last stanzas here especially moving and meaningful. You are really writing well these days, k–a pleasure to read this.

  5. Mama Zen Says:

    This is really beautifully done, Karin. Moving work.

  6. Susan Says:

    A magnificent poem, one of magnitude! Clearly YOU don’t have to look at mountains to see how they see–this poem is a testiment to their musing–standing on them and coming near them might be enough. I love this poem and its pictures and how it juxtaposes the timeless (though it erodes) and conceptual with the everyday tasks and the small screen. I love this. You might want to provide Mary with the pictures of the Hudson she has asked me for. I am no photographer. One more side note–this small screen and tiny moment is the next step in perception as theorized by Jaynes iin his book The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind (1976). I’m sharing your poem!

    • ManicDdaily Says:

      Thank you so much, Susan. I don’t know about the bicameral mind, but have a sense of breakdowns! I mainly just have pictures of the Hudson taken from the train (or from downtown NYC), but I can contact Mary if she’d like some. It is a very beautiful river. k.

      On Tue, Mar 17, 2015 at 12:20 PM, ManicDDaily wrote:


  7. Marian Says:

    Hey, Blondie, I can relate. It’s the answer back from the people in the small screen, though, no? The words indicating the connection, to those in the screen (across town or the continent or the planet) who choose to connect, rather than those sitting next to you on the train who would most often rather not. Not so bad, really.

  8. brian miller Says:

    I would hope not to have to face being blind…having to lose so much…but I knew a couple blind men in my day that could see better than most….just saying…ha…I do need to take it in all the more….because you never know…

  9. M Says:

    skylids. Perfect. ~

  10. Turning blind is such a strong image.. either for real or as a metaphor for what happens to many of us daily.. all those things we protect ourselves with.. the image of eyes being rocks is especially disturbing.

  11. Jim Says:

    So these are the thoughts of one destined to lose his/her eyesight.
    Very nicely written, getting the ducks in line, having set priorities. And of course the poet (you) adds conflict, the goals weren’t what a normal one should expect to hear.

    I share your fear, k. All the men I knew, Great Grandfather down, in my father’s line became blind in their 70’s and 80’s, my dad hit early 90’s before he quite driving and also stopped reading not long afterwards.

    My BIL has been alerted by his doctor that he is in danger of losing his bad eye. Medicine isn’t helping. Next time we visit I will talk with him about this. Cataract surgery did help his good eye.

    • ManicDdaily Says:

      It is a terrible thing! Best of luck to him. I have very bad vision, and it just drives me crazy at times. But on the other hand, I can still see with glasses!

      I don’t like to be on screens all the time either, but sometimes find it much easier to read– Good luck to your brother-in-law though, and to you. k.

      On Tue, Mar 17, 2015 at 9:48 PM, ManicDDaily wrote:


    • ManicDdaily Says:

      ps — I hope I’m not destined to lose my sight! It is just something I worry about a great deal! Thanks though. k.

      On Tue, Mar 17, 2015 at 9:48 PM, ManicDDaily wrote:


  12. margaret Says:

    ” dirty dishes too are personally insistent–” I hear you on that!

  13. Polly Says:

    Wondrous–sight is so precious–your words capture thoughts that we all hope do not come true…

  14. there are little things we are blind to and big things and things that are not things at all but human beings and their likeness to ourselves (me/you/you/me)… I know this train track, I’ve crossed it from one high cliff to another over a foot bridge then down to the river’s edge, watched stars flicker off the surface, reflections of the sun multiplied on lapping waves.

  15. Brendan Says:

    Beautiful work, Karin — Stevens had his meditational walks (so did Roethke), and you have the amnoitic clatter (sursurrus) of the Hudson line in which to frame and tame (but not, hopefully, lame), the ever-ungovernable spirit. The communion between writer and reader seems to inhabit this, though to me the reader inhabits many nooks — our deeper self, God, the distant chorus also in the ear, etc. Faintness of sight makes our vision deeper somehow, don’t you think? Maybe its compensation or maybe we’re allowed a deeper ingress thanks to infirmity. Nicely tightly wrought, winging delightfully throughout.

    • ManicDdaily Says:

      Thanks, Brendan, for your thoughtful comments. I don’t know about deeper vision–I might actually settle for better external version! But you are right that you just have to make the best of these things–and maybe some internal musing does arise–I for one am all for the meditational walk–not always meditational, but I do like to walk and think–thanks, again–I really loved the last one i read there at your place with the crows and seas. k.

  16. What a superb poem. One of my favourites of yours so far. It also contains a line that throws me back to Billy Joel’s New York State of Mind, “Hudson River Line”. Marvellous.

    Greetings from London.

    • ManicDdaily Says:

      Thank you so much, Cubano. I will look for the song. The Hudson Line is one of the lines in the New York “Metro North” commuting system and really a pretty one as it travels just next to the river the whole length of its journey (about two hours.) k.

      On Thu, Mar 19, 2015 at 2:29 PM, ManicDDaily wrote:


  17. M.A.S. Says:

    There are some things you do here that you could not if this poem weren’t so personal. And I love the ending – as it washes its both sides.

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