My prescription glasses are made for a near-sighted woman, but for most of my life I have taken a long view, “seen” sweeping possibilities, open-ended choices, many right answers to a question.
So when a teacher or colleague told me I was being too general, too vague, the only response I could figure out was to name, elaborate, and catalogue the details.
This may have helped move a project along in the moment, but failed to solve my dilemma, which, I came to understand, was not so much a failure to see the details as a contempt for them.
The contempt was a shell covering fear – as a child it was much safer to avert my eyes from what was going on around me.
It was when I began to celebrate the details, a journey helped along by playing with images, in collage, and in poetry, that a new level of healing unfolded.
An exaltation of particulars
by Sara Eisenberg
You will not find me in a long silky skirt,
covered buttons to the throat,
hair piled gracefully on my head,
held in place with a carved horn
butterfly…the look of my maternal
grandmother Fanny in the one
These are not my mother’s dress-up pearls.
These are not Kali’s trophy skulls clad
in space, held in
the womb of time.
I stand on my own particulars,
pants loose at the waist,
jasmine tea fragrant in a small cup adorned
with rabbits dancing by moonlight,
sleepless nights an ally now,
and truths spoken haltingly but
I lay up my treasures as working riches,
refuse to become a museum,
though I offer you these observations.
Visit again and again and the curator will offer a different gloss.
If you like, unstring these small transparencies,
fling them up into the sky:
their lights will arrange themselves for you,
draw you back into your own.