Thursday, May 20, 2010

Lee Sharkey's "Eye"

Poet Lee Sharkey meditates, through a series of questions, on the eye, on witnessing through another's suffering and loss of vision, on the blindnesses that we carry and are carried over.

Lee Sharkey

A rubber-coated metal bullet struck Ziad’s eye during clashes in Bethlehem. . . . His eyeball fell in the palm of his hand and . . . he kept holding it till he reached the hospital. He thought they could put it back in.
—Muna Hamzeh, Refugees in Our Own Land

What do you do with an eye in the cup of your hand?

What do you see that you didn’t?

What do you make of a sphere of jelly with fins of torn muscle?

What do your fingers impress on the rind?

Do you rush it to hospital, where a surgeon waits to fuse sight to vision?

Does the eye have a nationality? a history?

Does the eye have a user name?

Its own rubber bullet?

Where is the eye transcribed?

A little globe there and you are the keeper

Of the watery anteroom, the drink of clear glass

Dear eye

Once it lay snug in fat in its orbit

Once it saw as a child

Through humor a peppering of stars

-Lee Sharkey

From A Darker, Sweeter String, Off the Grid Press (;, 2008. Used by permission.

Lee Sharkey is the author most recently of A Darker Sweeter String (Off the Grid Press), of which Maine's Poet Laureate Betsy Sholl says, "If our dreams could edit the news (and sometimes our nightmares) these poems are how they'd wake us up to the urgency of our times." She is also the author of the book-length poem farmwife and To A Vanished World (both Puckerbrush Press), a poem sequence in response to Roman Vishniac's photographs of Eastern European Jewry in the years just preceding the Nazi Holocaust. She lives in rural Maine, teaches a writing workshop for adults with mental illness, and stands in a weekly peace vigil with Women in Black. She is the co-editor of the Beloit Poetry Journal (;, which published a chapbook of the work of Split This Rock poets for the first Split This Rock festival.

Sharkey appeared on the panel What Makes Effective Political Poetry? Editors’ Perspectives during Split This Rock Poetry Festival: Poems of Provocation & Witness 2010.

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1 comment:

Joseph Ross said...

It's a beautiful poem, Phil. An incisive use of questions. Lee is a beautiful person, as well. Joseph Ross