Eyes (Edited)

I wrote this poem after listening to an audio version of Eudora Welty’s “Where is the Voice Coming From”, which took me back to my days of teaching in public school. Over the course of three years, four students of mine were tried and convicted for involvement in murder. This poem is not written to excuse their actions, but rather in hopes that we will look deeper into the hearts of those my mom has always called “the lost boys” and see things from their point of view. Constructive criticism is welcome in the comments.

Eyes

You saw my eyes,
my retinas reflecting
trouble,
my antipathy speaking
volumes.

You showed me a mirror.

It stared back and said,
“Keep walking this way,
and you’ll only find
trouble”,
but I shut my eyes and covered my
ears.

I wasn’t thinking.

I saw her eyes,
her retinas reflecting
terror,
my gun and white-hot rage speaking with a
bang.

They showed me a cell.

It stared back and said,
“Twenty-five to life
for one moment’s
actions”,
then, terror and despair consumed my soul.

You, teacher, you saw my eyes,
but not my heart.

You weren’t there those nights I
was lullabied with my mother’s screams

and my brother’s cries.

You weren’t soothed to sleep
by the drumbeat
of gunshots every night.

You didn’t watch your father disappear
after telling you that all you’ll ever be
is nothing.

You didn’t grow up
not knowing where your next meal
or next night’s bed would come from.

You didn’t walk my streets
under pairs of shoes on power lines,
watching dope deals happen everywhere you turn.

You didn’t grow up
with no one showing you any other way
out.

So, teacher, see my eyes,
my retinas reflecting
pain,
my hardened heart and hollow voice speaking
hopelessness.

And then look into another’s eyes,
and tell him,
“I see your heart.”


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8 thoughts on “Eyes (Edited)

  1. I agree with Mel. The imagery is great and the message is so relevant. The world is so much richer when we stop settling for seeing people and begin to pursue knowing them (thereby acquainting ourselves with their hearts in the process). 🙂

  2. Powerful, Miranda. So powerful. I have a friend who teaches middle school in the public school system. And she has SUCH a heart for boys like the ones you are writing about here. I see her burden for them, and it is such a blessing to see. To see someone seeing these boys as the Father sees them…as valuable, as His.

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