My Dad got his very first pair of glasses when he was just a little boy.
It was the day that Kennedy was gunned down on Zapruder’s grainy 8 mm.
As if to acknowledge the grand cosmic ties that bind,
his sight is now the victim of an assassination plot by his eyes.
The macula are floating inside, between the retina and cornea
hoop-round like a sharpshooter’s target.
But, as time ticks forward they fold and and pucker
submerged in the pressure of vitreous fluid;
developing with ripples and distortion
into spooling images which won’t last through to a new decade.
I wonder what it must feel like,
to be staring blind, into the face of blindness
forced to shake hands with the sharp scythe
even though you know something’s going home on its blade.
And I wonder what it’s like to have your body reject
it’s own caste, proclaiming freedom to leave you stranded,
taking a stand against its servitude.
Telling you to take a hike, that “we don’t need you anymore
we can see everything that we want, here on the inside.
Have a seat in our theatre of decay.
Don’t worry, when the film runs out
we’ll project it backwards
till we reach the end of your reel.”
Up on the screen, mashed potatoes are melding
into the white plate at dinner time,
growing tendrils to bond with the porcelain.
It’s the exact opposite of Devil’s Tower and its fevered dreamscape
rising headlong towards the ceiling in its tangible garlic-butter grandeur.
These spuds recede from view;
forcing the tinny fork to search and prod
in its attempt to collide with the lumpy tower
that’s becoming more intangible by the minute.
Doomed to stay locked in a grainy 8mm vision.
He never says that he’s afraid of all this, not to me anyway,
but I’m sure as hell afraid.
I’m afraid that he’ll be stuck with a lousy picture of my children as teenagers,
before they ever become themselves.
That he’ll have an eternal awkward, billfold photo of me
in whatever stage of this mess I’m in at the time.
That he’ll never see my mother grow old,
he’ll only feel her skin go all papery beneath his calloused fingers
when he reaches to trace the sadness in her face.
A new reel starts playing forward again, for me.
It’s clean, undamaged celluloid, and I see my own fever dream come to life.
I see him walking with one of those long white canes,
tapping out a morse code chorus of SOS’s as he tries to get to the door.
I see him holding it up to part the seas of veiled strangers,
the tip poised rifle-steady to dispatch marks in its broken warped sight.
I see it held straight and clean like a pool cue while he stands,
echolocating all of the possible breaks of the tables and dogs and strollers.
Radar pinging against rods and cones to sketch out a wobbly light-diagram
of just how to get through, how to get home again.
All of the dotted lines becoming so very clear, slicing through the grain.
Amplified through vibrating pools of tears.