Lenses: A Love Song for Salman Rushdie by Joe Dees


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We are wanderers all
In the shapeshifting dunes of our days
Seeking amidst the sandstorms
The sight of a sheltered course
So we sift our pasts to cast our futures
And grind lenses to focus our lives.
Most are less than original
But each has its own eccentricities
Fitted for one eye, one terrain;
No lens is universal, and no path.

Most of us hide our quirks of vision
From others, and even from ourselves
Lest some fatal slip should betray us
And hew to some hard line or other
Packed by souls of similar stripe
Who confuse the safety of numbers
With the security of a way well chosen
And who, fearing the walkers of other ways
As challenges to their own decisions' wisdom
Strive to herd those they must consider misled
Back to their proper route, or failing that
Seek to end their journeys.

But some crazed few of us
Too honest for our own damned good
Craft our lenses from every gritty grain
Of the wide beach of experience
Fusing them carefully in insight's crucible
Until they crystallize clean and true
And then we wave them radiantly
Before the wandering world.

These folks are followed, or killed, or both.
Poets and messiahs are the glaziers
Of living visions, and well wrought lenses
May powerfully concentrate the common gaze
Promising pathfinding clarity.
But- remember this:
Art is metaphor, and metaphors are chameleons.
They are colored by our journeys
As surely as they shape them.
Empty and aimless are those who lack lenses
If such pathless ones exist
But stumbling blind are those who
Given the lenses of others
Wear them as if they were windowpanes
And polish them not with their lives.