• Vol. 09
  • Chapter 12
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WHERE OPHTHALMOLOGY FAILED TO SEE

It wasn’t a childish stare:
                                          but one that was embodied
                                        in make-believe, just for play,
                                     dressed in uniform, like a game.

As you were marching down the hill
the rain came, and the whole city
was washing pink. Your thumb
was sore: the tip was split,
though just a little. You didn’t see
how it happened, how the skin broke,
leaving a mournful sight―
no blood, but you knew the pain was right.

You stood for a while on the bridge
overlooking the motorway:
the which of wherever rapiding past.
They said twenty years,
you said you’d give it five.
The uphill walk, the downhill trot.
Absent-minded. Silences. Idle talk.
“Tell me your thoughts,” you asked yourself.
Waving your hand, you fingered a Nay-I-Know-Not.
“What a straight-back posture!” You trotted out
these pointless words.
The pink houses were still standing though.
Wasn’t there a patch of green
behind those knickerbockers?
Aye, but it was nobody’s thought.

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WHERE OPHTHALMOLOGY FAILED TO SEE

                                     No! It wasn’t a childish stare.

And then you saw how it went:
one day you could read the road signs,
the next day they were mere fragments,
all just dots and lines.
You shut your eyes (they had dimmed)
and tried to walk; bumping into things,
you learned to talk. Tell them!
Go and tell them ophthalmology hurts
(O that unchildish stare!)
― seeing the whys the hows the whats
whenever the which of wherever decided to stop.

You felt the ophthalmologist poking in your eyes,
teasing out what you didn't want to see,
laminating all your retinal secrets,
layer upon layer, until your courage
failed to detect any signal
from the summer of your past.
And you wondered whether you'd managed
to push your thoughts over their limits,
to where you'd be able to hear the sound
of one hand clapping and begin to wander
into the depths of those childish eyes.

Where ophthalmology failed to see,
as time folded itself into a big black mass of
incomprehensible sounds and shapes,
where your thoughts did not dare to stay,
where you knew you’d fall into the abyss
of those inviting eyes, from where
even the pink could never escape.
That stare was asking you
whether there ever was any “inside”.
Flustered, you walked away trailing empty words:
the which of wherever rapiding past!
Yes, ophthalmology hurts:
and to stare will always ― O how much is always? ―
remain an exhausting task.

                     No! Notwithstanding that unchildish stare.

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