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.