Blue Afternoon: The Middle Distance
by Anne Haines
I need more light now
than when I was young,
holding books at that middle distance
to let bifocals do their work.
As a result I find myself,
when I look up from the page,
gazing unfocused into something
I can’t quite see the name for.
It takes a moment, now, to make the shift
from close detail, from the word,
to whatever’s out the window.
Summer at the beach, I am rapt
with distance, book on the sand
beside me while I stare and stare
not at the lace of waves or shells
that wash in and drift back out
a few times before depositing themselves
quietly below the tideline,
but at the blue on blue horizon
line, the faint haze
that obscures the farthest ships,
the Boston skyline I saw once
on the clearest afternoon,
or thought I did. I stare
at nothing with a form,
at a whisper, at a fade
from blue to gray to duller
blue then blue again.
I don’t know what it is I think
I see but there is plenty of it,
this light, every light, the long
blue afternoon, my eyes at rest
past the struggle of the middle
distance, past the insect words
that quiver on the page, past
everything but light and light
itself, beyond the blurred horizon
and all the visible names of things.