On Seeing

After the emotional intensity of the last two weeks (more on that later), this week, I feel like a camera, all eyes, detached from brain, heart, soul. I go through my day automatically — I’m interested in whatever I’m doing while doing it, but don’t think about it any more than strictly needed — and periodically I just stop and stare and do nothing else. I’ve been looking out of car, office, bathroom windows, into shop TVs and doorways, at paintings and photos and videos, at people passing by, with a sharp focus, a sense that I’m recording it, like a camera, but with no emotional resonance to go along with the image.

I’ve been going out into the hallway to stare down through the window at a tree. Till yesterday it was bare, then there were shiny, sticky, rubbery red and orange baby leaves, today it’s a spinning, shimmering mass of bright green.

I’ve been watching a group of women combing each others’ hair in the sunlight. They spread a sheet on the ground and kick off their sandals before sitting down, almost in each other’s laps, so casually close to each other. I alternate between seeing the patterns the different pairs of sandals make — spots of blue and brown and red radiating around the edges of the white square sheet — and the way the pale fingers move through the dark hair, all the thousands of different shades of brown from almost cream to almost jet-black, intermingled. We see the individual people, the individual trees or leaves, but not the patterns they make in and between everything, forming and dissipating constantly.

I’ve been looking at eyes, how they sit in faces, how they move, how what someone says changes, contradicts, underlines what their eyes are saying. A woman’s grey eyes changed the blue shirt I saw her try on; they pulled out the grey in it, and it wasn’t blue anymore. Black eyes lined with kajal looked up, and the little kid with its hair in a ponytail changed in a flash from a girl to a boy. All the light in the world would gather and glisten in my ex’s eyes when she laughed; I would sometimes be afraid to look at them.

And I’ve also been looking at k. d. lang. Have a look at the patterns and colour and eyes here and you’ll see what I mean:

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~ by mortarandpestle on March 21, 2008.

3 Responses to “On Seeing”

  1. A lovely song — is this on her new CD? I’m not familiar with it.

    I just love, love, love her “Songs Of The 49th Parallel”

  2. Eyes really are incredible. The things we see with them and how they externalize so much of what we feel and try to hide on the inside. This was beautifully written.

  3. MLC: I don’t know which album this song’s from, but it’s definitely not her newest one; I have the impression that it’s pretty old. It’s lovely though, both to hear and watch.

    Dylan: Thanks!

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