Les yeux sont le miroir de l'ame

min-first-day-homeHer photographer friend Dani loves faces best. Eyes particularly. Dani laughs and shakes her head, surprised that after a decade of taking photos she is still and always drawn to eyes.

What can I say? They’re the window to the soul.

Her youngest child notices hands, the size of someone’s palm, the length of their fingers, the presence or not of rings, what those rings are made of.

Hands are expressive. Her mother’s hands, for example, are almost a part of her voice, the way they move when she talks, describing shapes in the air.

But the older she gets, the more she herself is drawn to eyes. Or maybe she always was, but she was more distracted before, by everything that surrounds eyes, all the other possibilities of the body.

Now, though, the eyes have it.

She thinks of an old man and woman she used to know, in the town where she grew up. Every Sunday she would talk to them at coffee hour after church. Early on she was taller than both of them. They were small and finely made, kind and talkative, dressed for church, and she loved them both.

The old man’s eyes were blue and kind, and he gripped her hand when he spoke. The old woman’s eyes were bright blue, clear and sharp, and she smiled when she looked up. They are gone now – where are they? – but she thinks of them often, and when she does, it is their eyes that she sees, looking up at her, seeing her.

Back then, she used to be surprised at the brightness of their eyes. They’re so old, was her teenager sense of them, but their eyes are so alive.

Now she thinks, They weren’t old.

She thinks, No one is ever old.

What is happening, now, is that she is starting to see people as separate from their bodies. Good looks, grace, strength and muscles and power, the way a person moves in the body he’s been given, all of that she still loves, and notices, and appreciates.

But the body no longer truly corresponds to the person it houses, in this new phase of life. Bodies are disappearing. Bodies are dissolving. When she looks at people now, what she sees is their eyes.


  1. John Steinecke · September 24, 2010

    This is nice, I like it.


  2. Lucy · September 26, 2010

    Me too.


  3. herhimnbryn · October 3, 2010

    Eyes AND hands for me. Both can tell stories.


  4. Pepper · October 15, 2010

    You definitely are on to something here when you speak of the person not being “old”. Were you referring to the Starings?


  5. alison · October 21, 2010

    Yes, I was indeed referring to the Starings, Pepper. They come to my mind so often. Odd.


  6. alison · October 21, 2010

    Hands too, you’re right, hhb. I don’t notice them as much as other people do (my youngest child, for example, notices everything about a person’s hands, almost before she looks at their face), but I love to look at the hands of someone who farms, or does physical work for a living. Hands that work.


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