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Saccade

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They have no sense of what they’re looking at,
Unless the object moves.
(Or so he’s read; who knows if that’s the case?)
A painted bird’s an empty analogue
To the oblivious cat.
And it is not his still familiar face
So much as that distinctive gait which proves
The master to his dog,
Who frolics for him like an acrobat.

His eyes need movement too, but make their own.
His most fixated gaze—
On one small figure in a Bruegel scene,
Or on the camber of his lover’s lip
He worships unbeknown,
As though no time or change will supervene—
Aflicker with saccade, adjusts and strays
Minutely to equip
His mind to take in what is being shown.

And maybe consciousness employs saccade
As well, and flickers back
And forth, now in the world, now, briefly, out—
The way the gum tree’s canopy overhead
Flickers with light and shade,
So every leaf is momently in doubt—
Its faith saved by such intermittent lack
From being surfeited,
Its constant sense being constantly unmade.


Source: Poetry (July/August 2010)

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This poem originally appeared in the July/August 2010 issue of Poetry magazine

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Saccade

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