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Saturday, October 17, 2015

The Gradual Colors of Blindness

Raised in the home of an optometrist
good vision was often the topic
as the family settled for a meal
in the nook on the corner
of the house with windows
that looked east to the hill
and west to the black mountains
where the sun blazed at its setting
Father mixed the complexity
of long and strange words
with something his boys
could understand
He spoke of his day
staring at the eyes
of patients with diabetes
macular degeneration
and the gradual loss of colors
For someone who had given his life
over to the care of those who
needed his care and concise observations
pain could be easily felt
as he spoke of someone going blind

Jorge Luis Borges was not his patient
because he lived in South America
far from the west of South Dakota
Borges spoke of his descending vision
losing blacks and other colors
one or two at a time in slow progression
Those who know these conditions
have sympathy for the one going blind
Yet thinking about these changes
and the blind who have crossed
the paths of my father's sons
there must be something special
in the loss of a sense
as other senses take charge
as the memory of visions
sharpen into the razors of thought

There is no desire to be blind
however eyes no longer drawn
this way and that
some kind of peace must settle
into the minds of those blind
who render the remembered
pile of black letters
into the word pictures
of the astonished void
that is the life of most people
Just as dust settles into the cracks
of a table or between the letters
on a keyboard
words gather no dirt
with no need for a polish in the mind
if they are properly dipped
in the colors of a blind man's creation

There's Borges yes but also
Ray Charles and Stevie Wonder
Jose Feliciano and Ronnie Milsap
Moondog and Doc Watson

These colors can make the legs weak
or force a toe to tap beyond all control
Father helped those near to blindness
see the dimming of the world
knowing well that something else
could rise from the pool
of remembered visions
What is left of each life's way
by accident birth or advanced age
needs no pity or tears of sorrow
but a closer look by inner eyes
of those who still can see
to recognize the possibilities
of darkness as a gift
for a golden frame
around the blazing colors
spilling from a changing soul

Barry G. Wick

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