I feel like I ought to be living in Texas again for everything, they say, is bigger in Texas, and you don’t argue with a Texan.
So much in my life is bigger now, a computer monitor that would pass for a moderate sized TV, with font so large a single page fills the screen, and the tablet the size of, but thank God not the weight of, a phone book, (if you are under 30, look it up), to read books and news since libraries don’t carry large print books (look that up too, probably) at least not books of poetry.
But thanks to modern materials science the lenses in my glasses don’t yet look like Mr. Magoo’s (yup, one more thing to look up,) at least not yet.
He loved the simple irony of it all. His vision was failing in one eye, likely might in the other, from macular degeneration. There was a hole in his vision thanks to his macula and geographic atrophy. And being a man of words he knew the best way to describe that spot, that hole, was to say his vision was maculate. It was just the most immaculate description he could imagine.
It is time they said, but they never said what it was time for, although they seem to know. It wasn’t like he was going anywhere, confined to this chair, a quadriplegic. He was the chair really as he had no way of moving it. He had no way of moving anything except by putting it in his mouth. So why, he wondered, did they tell him it was time. It was gratuitous at best and he had a watch strapped to his chair so he knew what time it was. But time meant nothing to him. When you are a prisoner as he was in his body time was merely your sentence and in his case it was likely life without parole
There is a strange beauty in the slow loss of sight, for there is a progressive transition, a discovery of much that went unheard, unfelt, missing in the glare of the need to see, to categorize and organize, memories neatly arranged in an array of curated visual files.
But without sight what once was cast aside as noise is an intricate tapestry of sound and undistracted, you begin to see the individual threads to see deeply into the art and craft of the unknown weaver.
Without sight, you so often store images in two dimensions but now requiring touch, everything is three dimensional of necessity and the world is infinitely more complex and yes beautiful than you recalled.
And the darkness of night, which marked a border that dared not be fully crossed grows meaningless and hours once lost may again now demand to be lived.
The gravestones, in random shapes line the hill the morning chill creeps between them and onto the runway until washed away by the spring sun slowly pushing upward as the jet noise washes the hill unheard
He passed away quietly in his bed ending his dread of the cancer slowly engulfing him his vision dimmed by the morphine that pulsed through his veins. He paused to remember the first spring rains.
She selected the plot on the hillside she would confide to friends, so that he might see the valley at long last free, to see the flowers bloom in early spring, the land that was his home and he its king.
One summer the caskets were carried out while the devout cursed the sacrilege of the master plan of the madman who decided that the airport must sit on the hill, his valley forever split.
The jets rush over the cemetery February snows blown across the gravestones in their wake as one snowflake melts slowly on the ground, a falling tear which, unheard, marks another passing year.
First Appeared in Candelabrum Poetry Magazine (UK), April 2002.
Acuity is such a strange word, sharp on the tongue and in meaning, but also a mark of what once was, what will never be again, replaced perhaps by a visual vacuity, comfortable word, no sharp edges, vague images floating behind a gauze seeping slowly into a scrim, knowing the stage will soon enough go dark, despite the ever brighter lighting. But replaced perhaps by ever greater auditory acuity, all edges, cutting sounds unmuted, fine shades of gradation, hearing clearly what you will soon stumble over yet again.
As I was leaving the surgical center they handed me the sheet with my post-procedure instructions, a sign of faith perhaps, that I was sufficiently out of the sedation to know what I was given.
I tucked them in my pocket, anxious to get home, to get coffee and the food I’d been denied since midnight the night before just in case something went wrong and they had to put me fully under.
I did get relief from my pain but I tossed and turned in bed my sleep coming in fits and starts, for no apparent reason, and when I read the instructions this morning I checked off the side effect insomnia and gave a half check to irritability.
It is strange knowing that your vision is not what it was, not what you want it to be, not necessarily yours in the long run, one eye already semi-useless for reading and distance.
You adapt, get bigger monitors, a tablet to read the news, a magnifier when you need to hold newsprint in hand, a large screen television (okay, you wanted that regrdless of your vision).
You realize so many songs you once sung (badly) will no longer make sense, goodbye “I Can See for Miles,” and no more Johnny Nash, “I’m looking through you,” nope, and “If I still haven’t found what I’m looking for” U2 will just have to find it for me.