Padgett’s “Now You See It”

Although irony would have to be the dominant characteristic of Ron Padgett’s poetry in How to Be Perfect, there are a few, subtler poems that I enjoyed almost as much as “Toothbrush.” This would be one of them:

Now You See It

What you don’t see
helps you see what
you do see: the keyhole
sharpens the thrill
in your brain,
even if there is
no one
in the room,
wafting across
the white sheets
as a song drifts in
the window,
her voice so pure
you can see
the face it rises from,
for what you see
helps you see what
you don’t see.

Perhaps my recent thoughts about what make a “perfect day” made me appreciate this poem more than I might otherwise have done. It seems to me that art is at its best when it makes us more aware of those things that are most important to us. It heightens our experiences, makes them “peak” experiences.

I’ve always enjoyed the beach, enjoyed the beauty, enjoyed the physical exertion, but found that I enjoyed the beach even more when combined with short trips to art galleries, even if the art did not specifically relate to the beach.

I’m not sure why that should be so, but I suspect it has something to do with art helping us to focus on those things that are most important. “The keyhole” frames what we see, eliminating everything but what is important. But art can also suggest what we cannot see, what cannot be seen. The part stands for the whole. The beauty of an object can stand for the beauty of the whole of the creation.

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