Thursday, November 9, 2017


Kids think the darndest things.

When I was very small, my parents used to tuck me in every night with a prayer. When it was time to settle down and get into bed, they would say, "It's time to P - R - A - Y." I'm embarrassed to think how long it took after learning to spell, to realize that wasn't a word, but rather, the spelling out of another word I knew: "Pray."

When I wrote my poem about being nearsighted, the subject made me remember a long-forgotten childhood concern about my eyesight, years before I ever needed glasses. I jotted down a not very well-done poem about it, which I have now revised.


Mary Ingalls was not my favorite character
on Little House on the Prairie,
but I was fascinated
by her visit to the ophthalmologist.

Then she lost her sight,
and I thought that’s how blindness happens:

First, you read too much (in low light);
you start rubbing your eyes all the time.
Then you need glasses,
and then you go blind.

I was starting to love reading, and sometimes
I read by flashlight in bed.
I evaluated: was I rubbing my eyes more than usual?
Had it already begun?

Mary Ingalls adjusted, but mostly off-camera;
her new life was strange; restricted.

In school, we learned about Helen Keller,
and I could not wrap my brain around her.
But a woman who taught blind children to read
brought a Braille book to our class,
and we were allowed to run our hands
across a dimpled page.

I felt the dots and wondered
how anyone could tell them apart.
The woman said the sensitivity in our fingers
would increase with practice,
and I immediately decided I would learn Braille –
my first interest in another language.

I never did learn Braille,
but the implication was clear:
if I ever went blind,
I would still be able to read.

And suddenly, it no longer worried me.

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