Posted by: ktzefr | August 7, 2017

What We See — random musings on a rainy Monday

“Not every reed is sugarcane.

Not every under has an over.

Not every eye can see.”




Sun-dappled walls, narrow cobblestone streets and alleys, blue and green and red houses, bougainvillea in waterfalls of color hanging from the rooftops…mangoes and zapotes and ripe melons stacked high inside the open doors to the Mercado…people eating ice cream in the plaza – avocado and corn-flavored and tequila-spiked on a cone — young people walking hand-in-hand, stopping to kiss on street corners.  Music everywhere.  When I think of Guanajuato now, I want to sit in the plaza all day and just look and listen. Though wildly different at its core, this mountain town in Mexico takes me back to my own hill town in eastern Kentucky in the 50s and 60s in a way that is more familiar and felt more intensely than my own home town today. 

Kathleen Norris: “…there is the past/and the future,/and between the two of them/you must be careful not to disappear.”


Virgin Islands…

When we’re sailing into dock the mountain rises in the distance, the blue sky, white sand, green orchards.  Once on the mountain, and even while winding our way up, the mountain itself disappears beneath our feet and we can see everything else for miles and miles. 

They say you have to take a closer look to see clearly, but if you’re too close?  Sometimes you need to look at something from a distance, be it time or space, to see it in a new way.   Up close, the mountain becomes a trail of tree shadows, pebbles and leaf cutter ants, colorful birds and flowers in the bushes.   In the distance it’s awash in green — as if this is two entirely different places.

It’s all about perspective – distance, angle, comparisons.


In “Nightfall” Leithauser tells how a pit viper swallows its prey to one and one-half its size, whole, the way nightfall swallows the forest, the land.


In St. John’s clear waters a moving wall of fish, a flash of silver going this way and that in waves like a murmuration of starlings dancing across the sky.  Who decides to start the dance?  Which bird?  Which fish?  How is synchronicity taught in the sky?  In the sea?

I remember hot August days on the football field, practicing with the marching band.  Left, right, left. Skip when  you’re out of step.  Move as one, a line, a section, the whole band.  Synchronize.  Practice, practice, practice.  And still…someone always messed up.

Yet, the fish and the birds do not mess up.  Who is directing the dance?

Rumi: “Friend, there’s a sweetness to the moon’s/one pearl, but consider the ocean it/grew in; and the soul’s great turning/wheel.  Graffiti people on bathhouse walls/have intelligent origins, but think who/drew the mind!”



Reflections; Photo:Dylan Fawcett

Reflection is not stone or metal or wood – a mountain, a house, an automobile.  It is; and it isn’t.  You cannot touch a reflection and feel it.  A reflection in water feels like water, tastes like water, has all the characteristics of water, and yet the reflection itself, alone, is not water.  How many other things seen so clearly in life are not at all what they seem?





Salt water.  Tears flow from sadness, from happiness, from getting sand in the eye.  Tears come all the time to keep the eye moist.  Why is it that people cry when they get upset or angry?  One is not simply sad but sad in many different ways.  Imagine a place where some other reaction happens instead of tears.  Say the human, or other being, has the shakes or makes loud noises or twitches his mouth or nose instead of crying.  I can’t think of any other physical reaction that would be as perfect as tears — the eyes being windows to the soul and all.



Cat eyes; Photo:DFawcett

I once had a teacher who scolded me for turning in a blank paper.  I told her I could not see the blackboard clearly from my seat in the back of the room, so I could not work the math problems.  I didn’t realize at the time that I was nearsighted and needed glasses.  My eyes had never been checked.  In any case, she came back and stood beside me, staring at the front of the room.  “I can see it just fine,” she said.  I was ten.  I had no excuse.  She wore glasses that made her look old and ugly.  This made me exceedingly happy. 


Some people should not be doing the job they’re doing…

“Yo sé de las historias viejas/del hombre y de sus rencillas;/y prefiero las abejas/volando en las campanillas.”

“I know the ancient histories/ of man and his struggles for power,/ but I prefer the buzzing bees/that hover round the bellflower.”  ~ José Martí

People always ask kids “what” they want to be when they grow up, never “who” they want to be, as if whatever job one does is the most important aspect of oneself.  And yet “who” we want to be and “who” we become is really all that matters in the end, isn’t it?

The poet Naomi Shihab Nye writes: “I want to drive a truck full of eggplants/down the smallest street./I want to be someone making music/with my coming.”

How cool is that?!


Who we could be…

British researchers have found that a sheep can distinguish and recognize as many as 50 other sheep’s faces for up to two years.  

I read this and wondered what happened to the wooden Christ painting in the living room of our house when I was growing up.  The shepherd picture on wood, the Christ with a staff and long robe, was carrying one lamb as the others follow.  Christ who would take turns, I’m certain, carrying the lamb that most needed to be lifted up.  What if we, all of us, carried the lamb that most needed carrying?  What if we took turns and wore a smile while we did so?

Naomi Shihab Nye:  ”If people ate together they would be less likely to kill one another, especially if one were responsible for shopping and cooking and the other for serving and cleaning up, and you took turns.”










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