What Have You Done With Your Eyes

The Spanish poet, Antonio Machado, said that if we pay attention exclusively to the inner world, it will dissolve; if we pay attention exclusively to the outer world, it will dissolve.  To create art, we have to stitch together both the inner and outer worlds.  How to do that?  Machado concludes, “Well, we could always use our eyes.” Islamic Amulet as Eye

One of his earliest memories, which he published among his notebooks, was this:

“I’d like to tell you the most important thing that ever happened to me.  One day when I was still quite young, my mother and I went out walking.  I had a piece of sugar cane in my hand, I remember – it was in Seville, in some vanished Christmas season.  Just ahead of us were another mother and child – he had a stick of sugar cane too.  I was sure mine was bigger – I knew it was!  Even so, I asked my mother – because children always ask questions they already know the answer to: ‘Mine’s bigger, isn’t it?’  And she said, ‘No, my boy, it’s not.  What have you done with your eyes?’  I’ve been asking myself that question ever since.”

~ Antonio Machado



Someone dancing inside us
has learned only a few steps:
the “Do-Your-Work” in 4/4 time,
the “What-Do-You-Expect” Waltz. Jumping off a cliff
He hasn’t noticed yet the woman
standing away from the lamp,
the one with black eyes
who knows the rumba,
and strange steps in jumpy rhythms
from the mountains of Bulgaria.
If they dance together,
something unexpected will happen.
If they don’t, the next world
will be a lot like this one.

Bill Holm