April 5 Poetry: A Blind Man's house at the Edge of a Cliff

Denis Levertov has a special place in my heart...and in my geography. A poet who lived much of her life in Seattle knew how the geography of mountians and spirituality came together. In this poem we imagine a man, blind, living on the edge. Last week's mass readings were of the man born blind...and I can't help but desire "a life pitched on the brink" as this man does or to be face to face with desire!

So here it is:

At the jutting rim of the land he lives,
but not from ignorance,
not from despair.
He knows one extra step from his seaward
wide-open door would be
a step into salt air,
and he has no longing to shatter himself
far below, where the breakers grind granite to sand.
No, he has chosen a life
pitched at the brink, a nest on the swaying
tip of a branch, for good reason:

dazzling withing his darkness
is the elusive deep horizon. Here
nothing intrudes, palpable shade,
between his eager
inward gaze
and the vast enigma.
If he would fly he would drift forever
into that veil, soft and receding.

He knows that if he could see
he would be no wiser.
high on the windy cliff he breathes
face to face with desire.

Levertov, Denise. A Door in the Hive. (New Directions, New York, 1989) 10.


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