John Olivares Espinoza

Left Eye Losing Sight

As the sight in my left eye
Worsens each year,
The other gets sharper.
My right eye
Tells the other,
Do not fret.
I’ll watch over you
Like a little brother.

When I shut my right eye
The world loses all detail:
People become traces
Of themselves, souls of what
Once fitted flesh;
Ghosts of whose
World I have entered
Without earning my death.
I had an uncle
Who had gone
Completely blind
By the time
He was fifty.
The first and only
Time I met him
I was eleven
And asked,
What do you see
When you’re blind?
Nothing, he answered
Do you see black?
He said, Not even that.
My grandfather slept with a revolver
Under his pillow.
Once, he unloaded it,
Held the rounds like a set of teeth.
He handed the pistol to my young brother
And he inspected
Each curve
As if it were a woman’s sleeping body.
Before my brother handed me the gun
The barrel glared right at me—
I stared into its one black eye
And flinched.
Shut one eye as you read
Or hear this.
What do you see out of the sealed eye?
Now imagine it in both eyes.
Do you now understand my uncle?

John Olivares Espinoza
Poem, copyright © John Olivares Espinoza, 2005
Appearing on the Fishouse with permission
Audio file, copyright © 2005, From the Fishouse