Considering the Middle Distance

Considering the Middle Distance

A Poem by kentuck14


  “But middle distance is best. Close up we see the one leaf
     and the one tree, gorgeous but myopic; long distance
      makes a momentary uniformity; best middle distance
    offers tricks of focus . . . we take them in as a leaf, as tree,
  and an expressionist’s wild canvas.”
--Donald Hall in
    'Seasons at Eagle Pond’

Like Hall, writing in poetic prose
about Autumn leaf watching in
New Hampshire, I ponder the idea
of viewing at middle distance
the many strange particulars of
the world that may yet emerge
before me--perhaps, in the few
short years, months or days
left me in this life.

Yes . . . focusing is tricky; the
“long distance” just ain’t there
(as Gertrude Stein might have
said in a different context)--
at least in a forward direction.
The “momentary uniformity,”
an anomaly against the inventory
of human sampling taken so far.

The world’s present particulars
(not really new, just dressed up
in different clothes), when viewed
from “close up,” can really baffle:
particulars no longer seem relevant
with the aging face fit obliquely in
my mirror. With its curious lines
and crevices, its slackened and
rebellious flesh--I’m like the
annual green leaves turning red
or yellow (finally brown) in the
changing air and light, the tree
needing rest after days of laboring
under the summer sun.

Thus, it seems the generation gap
between then and now--is too wide
a jump to understand much of the
world’s present, crazy mumbo-jumbo.
(Just using that cliche’ proves how
right I am.)

Now, Mr. Hall assures me: I will
better fathom these present fancies
by looking at them from the middle,
where all particulars become a “wild
canvas.” Singly viewed however--
each one flashes into view and out
with the speed of present-day
cyber light and ongoing social media.

Considering all this . . .
perhaps I should ignore the middle
distance. If uproar and confusion
were my desire and delight--I could
feast at their table all day long.
Except,that would not be the “best;”
at least for me. I’ll just continue to
view things from right where I am.

© 2020 kentuck14

Author's Note

Just another commentary on the challenges of growing old.

My Review

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I wish I could live in the “wield canvas” of the middle distance. My anxiety forces me past the long and middle to the often disappointment of the up close. But then at least I know where I stand, and good god man, I need to know where I Loved this!!!

Posted 6 Months Ago


5 Months Ago

Thanks C. Hope things go better with your anxiety.
ahahaha love your closing .. the musings are poignant, relevant to all but especially the creative at heart .. the philosophical in mind ... the brave adventurer ;) great write sir .. well said .. i like the strength of form ... lends to a sense of organization against the backdrop of so many varied "vision" points ... write on my friend .. thorougly enjoyed reading and following along

Posted 1 Year Ago


1 Year Ago

Thank you Mr. Noodle for the generous review.
This speaks to me of never giving up the right to the curious mind and intellectual observation. The ways the mind reacts to change and aging are curious, but our stance or point of focus can change the way we interact. Like refusing to become mired in the closeness of difficulty or the ever-approaching presence of ends.

Things are always impending and looming large. The myopic view making them feel larger, the view from a distance perhaps softening the lines, but the middle view lending perspective.

I like this as a contemplation, Tom. Remembering that our approach to seeing the world has a lot to do with what we see can be challenging. Life keeps going and it’s easy enough to get swept up in it like a river. But as you and Donald Hall remind us, we have choices. And choices oftentimes signify power.

In uncertain times this power of choice can’t help but stretch our minds into seeing something we might not have seen. Thank you for this reminder and bit of musing. I like how your words juxtaposed next to Hall’s just further cement the idea. Great poetry.

Posted 1 Year Ago


1 Year Ago

Reading Hall's book (1987) about seasons in New Hampshire, I came across this passage, fou.. read more
not only on growing old, but also on the current distancing, thinking of some of the recent events the past years, is welcomed by some...closeness not wanted.
By others, it is isolation when we need contact the most.
For the younger generation with cell phones, texting etc. maybe not a big deal, or that big of a change.
the trees in New Hampshire, New England in general, so beautiful in fall.
I remember Vermont every autumn...dazzling...but then little things like looking at that scenery found me smiling...didn't need a lot back then.
Simple things were good then, they are good now.
this is one of my favorite writes by you...thank you, T.
this took me away for a moment or two.

Posted 1 Year Ago


1 Year Ago

Thanks for coming by and commenting on this poem.
I was asked my opinion the other .. read more
jacob erin-cilberto

1 Year Ago

I would agree with your self-absorbed.
I deal with that constantly, teaching .. read more

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4 Reviews
Added on April 7, 2020
Last Updated on April 7, 2020



Lexington, KY

Started reading and writing poetry while in the Army many years ago. I picked up a book of poems by Leonard Cohen in a bookshop on Monterrey CA's Fisherman's Wharf and went on from there. I've had a n.. more..

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