“Vision” by Irene Wellman

Irene Wellman


Where the tree limb was cut
an eye
looks at her,
the eye in the forehead
that remembers other lives,
looking back down a long, whorled tunnel,
death before death,
birth before birth,
to the first,
the essential,
who foretold her,
saw her here
from the pupil formed
by the cut of an axe.
She sees it watching her,
then shifts away.
The eye knows her, met her
when she was the size of a fist,
then the size of a leaf,
then the length of an atom,
twisting in the vast
subterranean blue,
and before that,
fire and dust
rising out of unsteady waves of space,
and even before,
when nothing could escape,
no light or flame.
Yet between herself and the eye
is all that has happened—
the tree, the axe,
the reason for cutting,
a sharp separation,
the smell of cut wood.

from Rattle #49, Fall 2015


Irene Wellman: “I’m English by birth but have lived in the USA since I was fifteen years old. I’ve been influenced by many poets, past and present, but my first important influence was my father, a social anthropologist who was also a poet. The first time I wrote a poem when I was thirteen, my father took the poem and read it back to me and I heard myself at last speak out loud from my inner mind. I’m still trying to reach out and convey the unsayable feeling, image, passing thought. These poems, written during the time of my husband’s fatal illness, attempt to express the inexpressible.”

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