Apr 21 2024

Lisel Mueller – Monet Refuses the Operation

Published by at 8:45 am under Poetry

Monet Refuses the Operation
by Lisel Mueller

Doctor, you say that there are no haloes
around the streetlights in Paris
and what I see is an aberration
caused by old age, an affliction.
I tell you it has taken me all my life
to arrive at the vision of gas lamps as angels,
to soften and blur and finally banish
the edges you regret I don’t see,
to learn that the line I called the horizon
does not exist and sky and water,
so long apart, are the same state of being.
Fifty-four years before I could see
Rouen cathedral is built
of parallel shafts of sun,
and now you want to restore
my youthful errors: fixed
notions of top and bottom,
the illusion of three-dimensional space,
wisteria separate
from the bridge it covers.
What can I say to convince you
the Houses of Parliament dissolve
night after night to become
the fluid dream of the Thames?
I will not return to a universe
of objects that don’t know each other,
as if islands were not the lost children
of one great continent. The world
is flux, and light becomes what it touches,
becomes water, lilies on water,
above and below water,
becomes lilac and mauve and yellow
and white and cerulean lamps,
small fists passing sunlight
so quickly to one another
that it would take long, streaming hair
inside my brush to catch it.
To paint the speed of light!
Our weighted shapes, these verticals,
burn to mix with air
and changes our bones, skin, clothes
to gases. Doctor,
if only you could see
how heaven pulls earth into its arms
and how infinitely the heart expands
to claim this world, blue vapor without end.

— from Second Language: Poems, by Lisel Mueller

/ Image by Nik Shuliahin /

A rare Sunday poem this week. Last week was especially full with work and dental appointments, so I didn’t get to the poem on Friday. I received several thoughtful emails following the previous week’s poem, and I didn’t get many responses out — but I read them all.

Here’s something to remind us of the hidden glory in aging. (A big thank you to Mirabai Starr and her email newsletter for remind me of this poem.)

Permission, I suppose, to be a little less focused and a little more present. I hope you feel the heavenly nearness in those haloed lamps!

Recommended Books: Lisel Mueller

Alive Together: New and Selected Poems Second Language: Poems The Need to Hold Still: Poems Dependencies: Poems

Lisel Mueller, Lisel Mueller poetry, Secular or Eclectic poetry Lisel Mueller

US & Germany (1924 – )
Secular or Eclectic

More poetry by Lisel Mueller

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4 responses so far

4 Responses to “Lisel Mueller – Monet Refuses the Operation”

  1. KathY Alvarezon 21 Apr 2024 at 9:01 am

    What a beautiful perspective on the changes that come with aging! Thank you some much, Ivan, for sharing this.

  2. Brendaon 21 Apr 2024 at 9:30 am

    This 85 year old just LOVES IT. SO TRUEand much more
    People here AND Globally ,there is NO OTHER. Birds plants ,all creation even stones ‘speak’.

    So many scams my Paypal donation withdrawn by them. 😥 so it will have to be Will.
    How i have loved your choices and books over 13 years Ivan. Learnt more than all the spiritual classics read.
    Daily prayers, well not words, Just a handing over to and into the Holding of Perfect Love- also Michelle since her illness.
    Wish Icould send you a booklet a friend made of my scribbles. Words just inaudibly heard ,me just the scribe.
    After a busy life ,nurse ,midwife ,then marriage to a Priest with ever open door ,to all,raisng children ,elderly parents and whole Parish. Now indulging my love of silence and hermit hood.
    Any chance of an address if allowed. If not dont worry or trouble to reply.

  3. Ivan M. Grangeron 21 Apr 2024 at 9:40 am

    Hi Brenda-
    Thank you for such a lovely note. And, yes, you are always welcome to send me scribbles :-). My PO Box is:
    Poetry Chaikhana
    1574 Coburg Rd. #782
    Eugene, OR 97401-4802

  4. Carolon 21 Apr 2024 at 2:58 pm

    Oh Ivan, what a lovely poem – I could not read the words quickly enough – so I will read
    and reread and enjoy. Thank You for the Thought for the Day. Just coming through
    some hard times and your reassurance is a blessing.

    Peace and Every Good, Carol

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