blackbird online journal spring 2002 vol.1 no. 1



Learning to Use the Stick

Let's say you're a blind boy in the street

jabbering nervously at the teacher
walking backwards in front of you.

He moves, and you toward him,
the traffic against you both. Not knowing

what's to come and when you'll fall
makes you fall to the curb and refuse to move.

It doesn't matter. You'll have to get up
and learn again the town isn't empty

just crossing to the other side
to make room in your stretch of nothingness.

Blindness is anything but that—
it's not black velvet or a locked closet either,

but a place you imagine is time itself
where ideas are as real as the lamp you knock over

again. You'll have to get up
and start learning to keep your eyes closed

for the seeing who can't bear to see them.
The hardest is learning you're not alone,

the nothing you maneuver through
is the something we're all born into—

Now, let's say I take you up
on your offer of coffee sometime.

I walk blindly into your story. I'm a character
there. I walk blindly into your body.

I'm a character there, and language is
the stick, or faith, or violence, or love is.

Learning to use the stick, tapping the walk,
gently stirring and parting the air, making

doorways to push yourself through,
learning there's no use looking down.  

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