Invisible to Visible

A portrait of the Reader with a Bowl of Cereal

[“A poet…never speaks directly, as to someone at the breakfast table.” Yeats]

Every morning I sit across from you

at the same small table,

the sun all over the breakfast things – 

curve of a blue-and-white pitcher, 

a dish of berries – 

me in a sweatshirt or robe,

you invisible.

Most days, we are suspended

over a deep pool of silence.

I stare straight through you

or look out the window at the garden,

the powerful sky,

a cloud passing behind a tree.

There is no need to pass the toast,

the pot of jam,

or pour you a cup of tea,

and I can hide behind the paper,

rotate in its drum of calamitous news.

But some days I may notice

a little door swinging open

in the morning air,

and maybe the tea leaves

of some dream will be stuck

to the china slope of the hour – 

then I will lean forward,

elbows on the table,

with something to tell you,

and you will look up, as always,

your spoon dripping milk, ready to listen.

[Billy Collins, Picnic, Lightning; Pittsburgh, PA: Univ. of Pittsburgh Press, 1998, 3-4]

One of the surest signs that a relationship is in trouble: ignoring a partner’s attempt to get attention.

Looks like these two are doing just fine.


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