T.J. Eckleburg’s Eyes
have taken up residence in the street outside my apartment,
about twenty feet above my top floor, fifth floor walkup,
so that T.J. can’t see directly into my apartment
but can see me fully when I stand in the window
looking down into the street, or, as I am now, looking up
at T.J.’s eyes, which hover immovably, about fifty feet apart,
so that I can never look into both his eyes, plural, at once,
but must move my eyes from one of his eyes to the other, left to right,
or right to left. What interests me is that T.J. Eckleburg’s
eyes have come to me rather than my having to go to them.
I thought the thing was: one must drive past, or under T.J.
Eckleburg’s eyes. To say they are a symbol
for an omniscient God is too easy. They are a symbol
for Vladimir Putin’s hacking into American democracy.
No. I’m kidding. This much is true, like the eyes in certain
paintings, no matter where you are, you can move over here,
move over there, you can go downstairs, sit on the stoop, or walk
to the bodega, the eyes follow wherever you go. Each eye
is about six feet wide and three feet high. I thought you
would want to know this. I am now on the fire escape
looking between the eyes, focusing on neither one,
but by looking between them, my peripheral vision allows me
to get a good view of the total picture and here is what I have done
with T.J. Eckleburg’s eyes, I have turned them into the smiling pink
plastic cat clock, where the eyes go one way while the tail
goes another swish swish swish because you can’t let T.J.
Eckleburg’s eyes take over, you have to have some say in the matter.
Lee Stockdale lives in Asheville where he labors over the octopus tentacles of Forgiveness, his second novel. He holds an MFA from Queens University, Charlotte, NC, and a BA from the University of Washington, Seattle. He loves The Great Gatsby, upon which his poem, T.J. Eckleburg’s Eyes, is "ekphrasticed."
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