Unseeing by day/anxiety by night


“I imagined myself in Besel now, unseeing the Ul Qoma of the cross hatched terrain. Living in half of the space. Unseeing all the people and the architecture and the vehicles and the everything in and among which I had lived.” (from China Mieville’s The City and the City)

Aborting mindfulness,
I turn into my drive,
my eyes focus on the caramel
Kauri front door, its warming
wood so welcoming.

I unsee the verandah
with its deck all pulled
up from joist replacements,
while the side & back have
become one of mind’s
exclusion zones:
base board bare,
I can’t stand to stare at
the exposed piles –
it’s as if the house were
built on straws, and while
110 years of standing
still holds strong,
my imagination buckles.

Once through the front door
I unsee interior incongruencies:
the spare room that is spare
of anything but room,
the kitchen surfaces that
have yet to surface
from underneath –
last night’s dinner.

I unsee until bedtime then
night in its darkness illuminates
my thoughts with all that is
hidden in shadow.
Anxious awakenings –
it is not just the house that
is in need of restoration!

In China Mielville’s novel “The City and the City” two different cities overlap in geographical space, with residents of one city having to unsee the other city in order to fully exist in their own. While the novel may be a work of fiction, I wanted to examine what aspects of my own life involve a bit of “unseeing” and hence I came up with this poem.


6 thoughts on “Unseeing by day/anxiety by night

  1. Ha, ha, rasping laugh of recognition there: ‘the spare room that is spare of anything but room’. I think it’s good to have these exclusion zones of the mind, otherwise we would never be able to get on with things. But, as you hint in the title, I wonder what resurfaces then as night-time anxiety! Interesting exercise in re-seeing.

    • Yes, it’s true my mind would implode if I tried to consciously remember all that needs doing at once, but I’m unlikely to totally forget as unconscious reminders do spring up (at night).

  2. ‘Unseeing’ – what a concept – I shall be doing some of my own. And I’ll be reading the book. Marvellous post, marvellous poem, Rowan.

  3. You set yourself quite a challenge here Rowan T. I think you’ve more than achieved your objective and, given that yours had to be on a much smaller scale than a city, perhaps even improved on the construct. You close the piece so perfectly that I imagine half the blogosphere is sympathising with you and the other half are buckling up their toolbelts and riding to your rescue. A great work.

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