Attention by Rachel Hadas
Sunset. Midtown. The crowd flows west and east;
rush hour. That here I stand
unmoving, with a notebook in my hand,
makes some few glance up as they scurry past.
People who closely peer at any scene
as it's unfurling draw, apparently,
speculation as to what they see.
Like courage or like fear, attention
is, it turns out, communicable; spreads
through crowds. Of course contrariness also
may figure: shun me, so I stare at you.
One needn't be a beauty to turn heads.
Transfixed and focused, anyone can be
a momentary magnet to the eye
of the most abstracted passerby
drawn by our species' curiosity.
"What you look hard at seems to look hard
at you," wrote Hopkins, who had earned the sense
of an immanent intelligence
glinting in asphalt, curled within each word.
Per Contra Spring 2007