boys, literature i love

Why I looked away

The weasel was stunned into stillness as he was emerging from beneath an enormous shaggy wild rose bush four feet away. I was stunned into stillness twisted backward on the tree trunk. Our eyes locked, and someone threw away the key.

Our look was as if two lovers, or deadly enemies, met unexpectedly on an overgrown path when each had been thinking of something else: a clearing blow to the gut. It was also a bright blow to the brain, or a sudden beating of brains, with all the charge and intimate grate of rubbed balloons. It emptied our lungs. It felled the forest, moved the fields, and drained the pond; the world dismantled and tumbled into that black hole of eyes. If you and I looked at each other that way, our skulls would split and drop to our shoulders. But we don’t. We keep our skulls.

Annie Dillard, Living Like Weasels

You’ve been looked at like that,

And you’ve looked at like that.

Across a crowded chapel, a beckoned finger

Yes, yes, I mean you.

Through a glass door as you turned around,

a happenstance glance while you waited for something else to start.

He looked so very good, so very well.


A year later it wasn’t the glance that split your skull:

It was the lack of looking that told you everything.

So without contact but with brutal force your heart is split and so is his, ever so neatly,

There between the pews.

No messy guts.

Just truth, clear and steady as a pulse.


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