Second Sight


There is a kind of belonging to seeing the same sight twice.
– Sage Cohen, “The Word is the Way”

I missed first sight. The holly berried
in the trees was there last night. There, I’m sure,
scores of years before – sharing slits of light
and shade and cooling dark. One-fifth the size
of Douglas firs sentried on a dead-end street,
it rushed a call, Look at me! Choose me!

But I was blind to worlds beyond the words
inside my head. I could not see one bush
holding up two trees. Perhaps not holding,
but leaning in – like lovers whose day
grows out of hand and home waits miles away.
I was weighing other imagery:

bright lights around a coastal curve; a cat
caught stalking migrant birds; my lone car key
asleep inside my trunk. Each paced my feet,
belonged to me. But not one phrase would shape
a line, not one image tune my walking time
to poetry. Dead-end, they offered me.

I’ve been stalled before. Wandered lost around
the weighted earth. Belonged to dusk and dew.
Leaned on sages who would claim they knew –
beyond the insecurity of chance –
the holly stands alone tonight, waiting –
like grief or love wait – for a second glance.

By Carolyn Martin

(First published in Carolyn Martin, Finding Compass (Portland, OR: Queen of Wands Press, 2011)


Carolyn Martin is blissfully retired in Clackamas, Oregon, where she gardens, writes, and plays. Her poems have appeared in journals throughout the US and UK.

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