The stories I read as a child deeply impacted me, and I can’t help but use them as a framework for so many experiences I have as an adult. While I was drinking lukewarm, stale coffee on a fall day at work, I suddenly remembered the man with red eyes from Madeleine L’Engle’s a Wrinkle in Time (really came from out of nowhere), and the relevance hit me like a train. So I wrote this:
The Man with Red Eyes
On Wednesday, his stare is
luke-warm, bitter coffee.
My eyes cross and blurr and
breathing all but sleeps.
I see him then, in the unreal haze,
speaking softly with still lips,
eyes pulsing red
and suddenly I am Charles Wallace.
My boss enters
“Are you okay?”
and I don’t know,
so I smile and reply with data.
I get home and Meg says “You aren’t you!”
and it is true of both the man and I. He is not
a friend and I am not a
5-year-old who understands the soul
of every man lost in plain view.
Meg cries and her tears rip his mask off
and I see an old man with my eyes
and my own red eyes terrify me back
A soul engages in a daily battle to keep its passion and conscience alive. Nothing is more oppressive to the soul than feeling nothing, saying nothing, and doing nothing. Sometimes what you allow into your body is an indication of whether you’re giving up. Don’t give up!