Seeing without habit
by Jacqueline Winter Thomas
Do you know the surprise of finding yourself suddenly facing your own name as if it belonged to someone else, seeing its form and hearing the sound of the syllables, without the blind and deaf habit which a long intimacy provides?
The same phenomenon can take place for an object or an animal. In a flash we see a dog, a cab, a house, for the first time. What is special, mad, ridiculous, beautiful in them is overwhelming. But immediately afterwards, habit rubs out this powerful image with its eraser. We pat the dog, hail the cab, inhabit the house. We don’t see them anymore.
That is the role of poetry. It unveils, in the full meaning of the term. It strips bare, under a light which shatters our indifference, the surprising things around us which our senses register automatically.