Poem by Eugene Datta

August 15, 2023

What the Witness Knows

An image turns up where

the dream fades—a fork
lying on a table—a dog barks,

a bird trills, the flutter
of its wings. It’s early morning.

A word, a string of words,

a thought—The vastness
before the moment shrinks

into an event. The image
of a fork lying on a table.

What happens to them—

the thought, the image—
when they’re seen closely?

The heart beats
to the moment’s endless

iteration. The air cools

the skin. The thought—
Being the sight, sound

and smell before a witness
shows up on the scene.

If the image (now a fork

with a pyramid of rice
before the O of an open

mouth) disappears, where
does it go? The thought—Then

knowing what the witness knows—

if seen closely, where is it
seen closely from?

And who’s doing the seeing?
Who’s hearing the barking dog,

the trilling bird?

About Eugene Datta

Eugene Datta’s recent work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Dalhousie Review, Rust & Moth, In Parentheses, Main Street Rag, Red Noise Collective, and elsewhere. Born and raised in India, he now lives in Aachen, Germany.