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Poem Number 107

A meditation on the painful experience of seeing someone lose their vision.


Charles Webb

It's okay if the world goes with Venetian;
Who cares what Italians don't see?-
Or with Man's Bluff (a temporary problem
Healed by shrieks and cheating)-or with date:
Three hours of squirming repaid by laughs for years.

But when an old woman, already deaf,
Wakes from a night of headaches, and the dark
Won't disappear-when doctors call like tedious
Birds, "If only..." up and down hospital halls-
When, long-distance, I hear her say, "Don't worry.

Honey, I'll be fine," is it a wonder
If my mind speeds down blind alleys?
If the adage "Love is blind" has never seemed
So true? If, in a flash of blinding light
I see Justice drop her scales, yank off

Her blindfold, stand revealed - a monster-god
With spidery arms and a mouth like a black hole-
While I leap, ant-sized, at her feet, blinded
By tears, raging blindly as, sense by sense,
My mother is sucked away?


from Reading the Water, 1997
Northeastern University Press

Copyright 1997 by Charles Harper Webb.
All rights reserved.
Reproduced with permission (click for permissions information).