©Evan Nichols, 2009

©Evan Nichols, 2009

The miracle of the variegated iris
Sea green, China blue, pale hazel,
Deep brown laced with gold

The pupil, magical opening, widening with love,
Or as the sun dies,
And narrowing to light

The lens cradled in its sac
Rendering Van Gogh’s lonely blue bed,
Goya’s voracious mouths and cruel shrouded cities

And this wind-rippled lake
Sanctuary for mallards, loons, Canadian Geese
And one snowy egret

The cornea, small planet
Blue-white in babies,
Veined red by age

Or by the sudden death of a friend too young to die,
Groceries scattered across the asphalt, dark blood, a twisted bike

The retina, delicate screen
Even a small rip threatening the end of the show
And deeper, the vitreous fluid,
Holy water of the eye

The eye a window, a sky of its own
An opening to ecstasy,
Donne’s lovers’ eyes, beams twisted on one double thread

At night, shutters
To close on sorrows too great, or horror not to be borne

The eye, wordless singer of love songs
The lashes fringed fans to hide naked feeling

How the eyes glint in anger
Hard as diamonds
Soften at the sight of a child come home

And how they fill with unbidden tears
Because of some image in the mind’s eye
Soft flicker of birds across water
Smile of a loved one gone
The trusting eyes of dogs
The wise eyes of cats

Birds’ eyes, bees’ eyes,
The eyes of butterflies

I think of my student Lamont’s eyes,
Pale green jewels set in brown skin
Or my mother’s eyes,
Unmoored toward the end

©Judy Bebelaar, 2009

Judy Bebelaar found the summer institute of 1986 a life-changing experience. She taught in San Francisco schools for 37 years, loving almost every day, and now enjoys hosting the BAWP Writing Teachers Write reading series at the Nomad Café (4th Wednesdays at 5). Mornings, she tries to write, heads out to weed the garden, writes some more and then finds some silly household chore to distract her. She’s considering tying herself to her computer chair. You may contact Judy at jbebelaar@pacbell.net if you’re interested in reading at the café.

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3 Responses to “Eyes by Judy Bebelaar”

  1. John Levine Says:

    Judy,
    Wow. Love the images. Haunting. I’ll never look at eyes the same way again.

  2. Jerry christen Says:

    Hello miss bebelaar. Mine is a voice from the past. I was a student of yours at the original opportunity high school in there first building on mission st. Mr dondero was the first shop teacher and later it was mr wiemar who also taught drivers ed. Mr gilbert was my home room teacher. Mr anderson was principal and mrs powell vice principal. I am trying to thank all the teachers i can for not giving up on me and tolet them know it paid off as i now have a masters from pepperdine university. I remember one time i won a drawing and you took me and another student to lunch at a place on market st. Thank you for not giving up on me! I have had a stroke and i spent 3 years in a nursing home in sunland ca and had to work my way out of it. I can now walk with a grandma walker. I was in bed for 2 and 1 half years never getting out. I got tired of being there so i started complaining to the nurses and who was from union city started to work with me , she to would not give up on me. Now i have progressed to where i can live by myself as my wife left me because she thought she would have to do everything for me. I still have to use wheelchair though. I live in the armpit of california( bakersfield). You can e mail me at jchriste5@hotmail.com . Thank you in advance for reading this.


  3. Judy, I believe I was able to find you once online many years ago. and I mentioned that several times I was a guest for dinner in your apartment in Berkeley. I was a student at Richmond High in John’s English class in 1965.
    I had told you before how powerful an impact that he made upon me, and that I was sad to hear of his death. I had so looked forward to sharing a cup of tea or coffee and tell him of my life, which was largely his initial shaping.

    And now, I have ended my educational career, retiring as the Art department chair {after forty years} at Contra Costa College. Again, I feel the urge to tell John how important he was in my life, and how many lessons I applied as a teacher because of him. I know I’m probably one of hundreds, or thousands, but i really felt he saw me, the real me. That was so encouraging! and you were so gracious when I showed up for dinner. I couldn’t believe that adults were interested in shy, gangly teenagers. Ha!

    Anyway, thank you, and thank John
    -john

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