BELIEVING IS SEEING
after Edgar Rubin’s vase
Try as I might, I see only what I see.
Even shifting my angle of vision, I cannot gain
new perspective, see this your way.
As in the picture, nothing but
a vase – single, centered, symmetrical –
as if what is unseen is
camouflaged, like brown and white pintos
herded near snow-covered stones,
or the black dot on each wing of a butterfly
that mimics a predator’s watchful eyes.
I stare and stare –
even cross my own
hoping the invisible will emerge in the blur.
Each time I look – just a vase
as if the paper is a screen on which my eyes project
what they expect to see,
as if I am surrounded by mirrors reflecting
only what arises from inside.
I keep staring. Suddenly – in a blink of resolve –
positive and negative spaces flip-switch,
the vase shatters, its shards swept away.
What was once form is ground,
and what was ground – form.
What was hidden is found,
and what was is transformed.
I understand only when I understand.
Now identical profiles stare eye to eye,
with nothing to come between us.