Editor’s Note: This poem, from the 15th anniversary edition of the Delmarva Review, has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize.
Author’s Note: Since I first looked into a kaleidoscope as a young child, I’ve been fascinated by and deeply curious about perception. How do we perceive the world and apprehend mystery? How do we know what we know about anything? Our limitations and the possibility of enlightenment always are juxtaposed, as they are in the poem. I’ve come to rely on poetry itself as a way of perceiving and knowing the world, other people, and the divine.
Now Only in Part
We are mostly dark energy, dark genome.
A high percentage of invisible. Visible is hardly anything.
Birds see extra spectra, colors our cones cannot bear.
The dragonfly has thousandfold eyes, sees you move before you move.
We see only in part, on the verge of night.
The black box mind makes semblances, scopes the far void,
peers in the deeps, signals, seeks, as in a mirror, dimly.
Instruments extend the sense. Peek through the keyhole of eyeball
to the optic disc, the flaring nerve roping down the well of perception.
In the seventeenth century a Dutch burgher magnified his semen, astonished to see
the little tadpoles of his seed. On the screen a cloudy nebula embryo, swirling.
Beyond sight, second sight. There is also, beholding.
As a child the poet Blake saw God’s head poking through a window,
angels in the trees. Visions of the third eye.
Wheels within wheels. The gleaming mystic rose.
Marda Messick is a poet and theologian living in Tallahassee, Florida, on land that is the traditional territory of the Apalachee Nation and other indigenous peoples. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Christian Century and Literary Mama.
Over its 15-year history, Delmarva Review has published new literary prose and poetry from 490 authors from 42 states, the District of Columbia, and 16 foreign countries. Forty-six percent are from the Chesapeake and Delmarva region. Financial support is from tax-deductible contributions and a grant from Talbot Arts with funds from the Maryland State Arts Council. Website: www.DelmarvaReview.org