“Who made the eyes but I?”— George Herbert
The loveliest thing I’ve ever seen is my own left eye. The truth is, I’m fucking beautiful. You have no idea. In digital 3-D, the organ of my sight, as shown to me on a black screen, is a red planet shot through with red rivers and streams blazing its interior. Suspended in terrifying blackness. I am so taken with my eye, I ask the optometrist if she can burn a copy to disc. I want to have it reproduced, amplified, projected onto the sides of buildings. I’m giddy with beauty and mystery but she’s pointing to a moodless mole on the ocular nerve’s trunk. If it sends out feet, she warns. What she means is: blindness. She says, You might have been born with it. My unseen places must all be like this — gorgeous, corpuscular and damaged landscapes of plasma so foreign and brooding they have to be mine. The typical behavior, she’s saying, but the mechanics only mystify. My moods cease to matter. Things just are. The light of the eye does not discern, but it occupies, and the occupation is ancient and rare and makes me divine even when I cannot grasp my own god-ness. My desire is to be fine and modern, so I shiver a little, in minute ripples, a small gust over the pond. Worthy or not, I am always — have always been — the performance of anxious, red branches branching. If I think of it now, it aches. And it aches only when I think of it.
“Absorption (Self)” first appeared in The Los Angeles Review, Vol 7, Spring 2010.