Listening to your eyes


Sight seems simple enough. First, you open your eyes. If the room is dark, you go back to sleep. If not, the lenses in your eyes focus. If your eyes find this difficult to do, your nose offers to hold your external lenses because it, too, would like to get a better look at what is right in front of it. Photons of light, like tourists hurrying off the bus, rush into your eyes to see your retina. They crowd around the retina while the brain takes their pictures, and then they rush out, so the next crowd can come in. Some of the same ones visit every single day. Apparently they have nothing better to do, or perhaps the retina is worth seeing again and again.


The brain collects these photos from morning till night, ignoring the most familiar, studying the unfamiliar, and sorting them into piles of those it likes and those it doesn’t. But what is the point of taking pictures if you don’t have someone to share them with? So, the brain shares them with the heart and that complicates sight. Hearts may be born with 20/20 vision, but over time they can change. Life can scar the lens of the heart and pressure can change its ability to focus. An astigmatic heart can’t see clearly, and looking through the lens of expectations only makes it half-blind. Even with the corrective lenses of a friend, lover, or family member, some things remain distorted, blurry, or impossible to see.


If the heart insists loudly and persistently enough that its way of seeing things is true, the brain can start believing the heart instead of the eyes. And the heart is often right. The eyes need light to see; the heart sees in both the light and the dark and can feel truth even when she can’t see it.

But sometimes the heart isn’t right. You come to a crossroads and see a sign telling you where you are. The heart reads the unfamiliar script, not even sure how to pronounce it. Lost again, she says. One more sign of failure. Everyone, except me, knows where to belong. I will never find my way home now. The eyes, however, see the bright, bold letters, the flourishes around the words put there by some sign painter writing his heart in simple words for the weary traveller who would surely walk this way and need some direction. You are here. Just follow the sign. A place of rest lies up ahead. This road might be the one that leads you home.


This time the eyes are right. The heart must trust and follow.

36 thoughts on “Listening to your eyes

  1. I love your deep tone as much as your lighthearted one. This short prose poem is so, very, exquisite. So soft it almost whispers. Thank you for reminding me, eloquently, to slow down today and listen to both my heart and my eyes. Wow. Just… wow.

      • Ah, you’re telling me! The last two weeks have not been my favorite.

        But whatever is going on, it’s given you an extra poetic turn of phrase, which is like adding extra toppings to an already sweet dish that you concoct with such seeming ease.

        And you’re a real writer, Yearstricken, in my book and because you know how to tell more than one kind of story and how to tell these stories well. You’re an editor’s dream writer, really. So glad to be one of your readers.

  2. “If the heart insists loudly and persistently enough that its way of seeing things is true, the brain can start believing the heart instead of the eyes.” That is a poetic way of describing depression, thank you!

      • I was thinking of the way depression was explained to me: your brain gets stuck in a rut of bad/negative thoughts until it cannot get out and those thoughts become the normal way of thinking. Because that terrible rut hits us in the heart, the heart believes what it no longer sees for itself… I hope you never take the rut as being the path of truth. It’s not fun in there 🙂

  3. Ys, there is a melancholy in your prose. You have an amazing range as a writer. Wisconsin winter getting to you? Michigan is getting to me, the season that is.

  4. “this road might be the one that leads you home”

    whether listening with our eyes,
    or with the desire that lives in our hearts,
    searching for the road that leads to home
    is the obvious place to start

    beautifully written … my eyes were listening the whole time, and especially appreciated the parts that allowed for the possibility that sometimes we must accept that maybe the heart gets it wrong, and it is then that we have to listen with our eyes … nicely done

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