Thursday, November 20, 2008

Special Glasses

By Billy Collins

I had to send away for them
because they are not available in any store.

They look the same as any sunglasses
with a light tint and silvery frames,
but instead of filtering out the harmful
rays of the sun,

they filter out the harmful sight of you --
you on the approach,
you waiting at my bus stop,
you, face in the evening window.

Every morning I put them on
and step out the side door
whistling a melody of thanks to my nose
and my ears for holding them in place, just so,

singing a song of gratitude
to the lens grinder at his heavy bench
and to the very lenses themselves
because they allow it all to come in, all but you.

How they know the difference
between the green hedges, the stone walls,
and you is beyond me,

yet the schoolbuses flashing in the rain
do come in, as well as the postman waving
and the mother and daughter dogs next door,

and then there is the tea kettle
about to play its chord—
everything sailing right in but you, girl.

Yes, just as the night air passes through the screen,
but not the mosquito,
and as water swirls down the drain,
but not the eggshell,
so the flowering trellis and the moon
pass through my special glasses, but not you.

Let us keep it this way, I say to myself,
as I lay my special glasses on the night table,
pull the chain on the lamp,
and say a prayer—unlike the song—
that I will not see you in my dreams.

Comments : Billy Collins is one poet I discovered only last year (thanks A) when a friend lent me ‘The Trouble With Poetry’. I found that I loved the touch of whimsy in some of the poems, the twist in the tale in others, and the sense of time slowly unspooling in others – all of these delivered in no-nonsense, matter-of-fact, light-n-airy verse.
Incidentally, I read a review that said that ‘The Trouble With Poetry’ is a collection of the most inferior of his poems. But I thoroughly enjoyed it and it left me hungry for more Billy Collins.
Have chosen one of the more somber and sad poems here – I really liked this poem for the way it describes the process of getting over someone.
- Zen

About the poet : Billy Collins is the author of eight collections of poetry, including Nine Horses; Sailing Alone Around the Room; Picnic. Lightning; The Art of Drowning; and Questions About Angels. He is also the editor of Poetry 180: A Turning Back to Poetry and 180 More: Extraordinary Poems for Every Day. A Distinguished Professor of English at Lehman College of the City University of New York, he was appointed Poet Laureate of the United States for 2001-2003 and is currently serving as the Poet Laureate of New York State.
More about the poet on and


Anonymous said...

i find this poet most intreguing how he uses glasses as a symbol

Entropy said...

Hi Anonymous,
Yes, that's what intrigued me too.