Walter Bargen, three poems

Institute of Eyes

I’m waiting among those who are already waiting,

hoping to see something of comfort that they’ve seen before,

or haven’t seen in years, and those few who just hope to see

no matter the consequences, maybe without words that will not

be seen again. No one notices the black and blue eyes of helium

balloons that bounce and stare down from the ceiling

and their synchronized blinking in the drafts from the opening

and closing of the glass doors. Or the eyes with their eyelash-thin fins

swimming in the aquarium of the aqueous humor

near the receptionist’s desk who doesn’t look up in greeting.

May be it can be measured and understood

in the shadows of ever-diminishing letters

projected high on a wall across a room

until the finest lines of letters are a mist

that blows over out-of-focus faces,

eyes unresolved squinting,

prisoners of their own ageing ruin.

Still a woman waits, her toes barely touching

the floor but not her heels. Her back straight, stiff,

her lap-sized purse filled with what must sustain

her waiting for that moment when she is told

her chances. Both her arms embrace the black vinyl

with its artfully looping handles, as if recalling rocking

a blind child to sleep. Her stare unrelenting, the steel

of not seeing anything but the past, but hearing

all that passes, the patience of patient after patient

walking down the hallways of their own privatized visions.