Sun Gazers by Stephen Dobyns
My stepdaughter is three and we have some games
we play when she gets back from day care and I
have finished my work for the day. In one game,
while I try to find her she climbs on a chair
and closes her eyes because with her eyes shut
she thinks I can't see her but must prowl around
calling her name, which I do to amuse her.
Then tiptoeing back I give her a slight poke,
which pleases her as proof of my cleverness,
that I've found her secret place in all that dark.
The mind too, I think, has many eyes, which we
open one by one, as if the world's too bright,
as waking at night and turning on the lamp
I keep an eye squinched shut and feel unprepared
to face the glare. My stepdaughter with eyes shut
feels safe as I circle her dark hiding place—
to look around her means perceiving danger,
yet soon she will come to look into the light.
Death too is a kind of light, a larger sun
we spend our lives learning to look into
as if by seeing we might defeat our end,
like those Indian holy men who live by
staring at the sun, trying to discover
what lies past common sight, and so die blind.