You can take my sight, but my mind will still see what it must, and my fingers will become eyes. You can take my hearing, I will imagine what I must, and my eyes will become ears. You can take my tongue, but my body will shout what I must, and my hands will speak volumes. The only thing you cannot take is my words, for without them my prison would be complete and I would be rendered mute, deaf and blind, and that is a fate from which I could never hope to emerge.
Today in odd places, at the most unexpected moments, a child will smile without reason, a young girl will laugh, the young boy will stroke the neck of a wandering cat, and in that place at that moment there will be a simple peace. Only the children will notice this, though it gives lie to those who deem peace impossible. A child knows that it is only preconceptions and attachments that blind adults to the peace that surrounds them.
They speak of me, never to me, with terms like breakage, as though life, mine at least, is a glass bottle on a shelf with so many others, and a certain percentage are pre- assumed to break and be discarded and no one will bat an eyelash.
To them I am nameless, one of many, stock in trade, with no provenance, or at least none they would grant me, and they question my origins, as though I may not be worthy enough to even be considered as future breakage.
I want to remind them that they invited me here, invited so many others, that we are here because it was one place we were going to be allowed, but they have grown deaf, and blind, and I must wait until they, too, soon, are swept from the shelf and placed in clearance, then discarded.
Good lord, people would you get your facts straight. Yes, there were three of us, but one is now gone. He disappeared one night, though I think the cat got him. But that is as close to accurate as you got. Okay, we were all severely myopic, or I was, and they said they were too. But that is where you went off the rails. We weren’t running after anyone. When you are nearly blind you don’t chase things or people. They are large and don’t watch where they step. And their screams can be deafening. We smelled some fresh bread and went, by nose, to check it out. Didn’t get all that far before we each felt a sudden pain. It was like someone took an axe to our back side. It was all we could do to get away. But the bleeding stopped quickly enough, though the pain lasted for days. And we must take your word it was a carving knife, though it felt serrated to me. And no one was there after she ran from the room, screaming. Thank god home was along the baseboard so we could find our way, since they don’t make miniature white canes for the likes of us. But let’s be clear, no one saw us coming or going, no sightings at all, and that’s the whole story as we lived it.
There was a great deal I wanted to say, after all when you end the broadcast career that spanned forty-three years you want to be entitled to a farewell address. She said, “you’ve been on the air here for two years, and reading the news to the blind once a week for half an hour hardly constitutes a career. And as for the three years you did on the college station, forty years before this, I’m surprised even you can remember anything you said.” Somewhere in the herbal fog of memory I knew she was right.
The sax swings freely rising and falling on the notes he coaxes out, dancing around the bass’s rhythm, the brushes caressing the drum heads. You close your eyes and allow the music to carry you off. It is at the set’s end when he unfolds the white cane that you see you share a common blindness.