By Jessica Goodfellow
Because my husband is going slowly
blind, the lights in our house have motion
sensors. As I walk through the rooms
I am the star of the show, lit one-by-one by
spotlights as I go. Desiring the dark,
I must sit motionless. One itch, one twitch,
and up come the houselights, rendering
me suddenly—again—audience of me.
Tonight we are sitting in the dark
beside the Christmas tree. Its strands
of blinking lights remind my husband
of his childhood, when he could see.
I find it funny they don’t remind him of
the blinking lights that ring the edges of
his eye field, proof of his rods and cones
one-by-one dying. Not ha-ha funny, the other kind.
There are things ha-ha funny about going
blind though. Like that time he walked
wearing a three-piece wool suit into the deep
end of a swimming pool in a hotel in Italy.
I wasn’t there—he told me later.
I was at home, turning lights on and off
through only my anxious pacing.
Sitting by the Christmas tree, I squeeze
my husband’s hand—squeeze and release,
squeeze and release—my hand blinking
in his. It’s such a tiny motion the sensors
don’t detect it. Someday my husband will
sit in the dark and wave his arms wildly
and still be in the dark. One-by-one every-
thing happens, every disappearance appears.
(This poem was originally published in B O D Y Literature)
Bio: Jessica Goodfellow’s poetry books are Whiteout (University of
Alaska Press, 2017), Mendeleev’s Mandala, and The Insomniac’s
Weather Report. A former writer-in-residence at Denali National Park
and Preserve, she’s had poems in The Southern Review, Ploughshares,
Scientific American, Verse Daily, Motionpoems, and Best American
Poetry. Jessica lives and works in Japan.