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Introduction: The Eye-Mote

Red cinder around which I myself,
Horses, planets and spires revolve.

The eye-mote in Slyvia Plath's poem by the same name is a splinter that flies into the poet's eye, shattering the position from which Plath opens the poem:


Blameless as daylight I stood looking
At a field of horses, necks bent, manes blown,
Tails streaming against the green
Backdrop of sycamores.

A "small grain" that burns, the eye-mote fixes Plath to "the present itch for flesh, / Blind to what will be and what was." The damage pins the victim, smears and pulls everything into its orbit. And it can't be undone. In the end what Plath wants, what she was before the eye-mote stabbed her, is out of reach, "gone out of mind."


Poetic seeing seems a bit like this, becoming stuck by a small detail or moment. And that kind of seeing requires being open, vulnerable to be struck by beauty but also what's painful. Why? Because attention both roots and moves you and, hopefully, a reader somewhere. And so the eye-mote is my weird starting point and welcome.

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