My father is more nearsighted than I –
Too much reading in the dark, perhaps.
His powers are -4.00, both eyes,
Whereas mine are -2.75.
We both wear contacts,
Or rather, we both wore…
– I could see him in the very early morning,
Popping the tiny bubble-blue discs into his eyes.
It took me a very long time at first,
In the sixth or seventh grade,
Trying again and again,
Not to blink my lashes over the
Incoming object, my own
My father died when I was eighteen.
His brother, my uncle, “Bob”,
Is so deeply flawed, he can barely see;
The lenses in his glasses are like the bottom of a bottle,
And his eyes don’t even seem to be looking at you
When he is.
“Uncle Bob”’s wife is very ugly, but has a smooth,
Soothing kind of voice,
And soft hair,
And she seems not even to have teeth;
I don’t know.
In the months or year after, I ran out of contacts,
But I didn’t ask my mother for more
(She can get trial pairs at her work…)
Instead I went into my father’s cupboard,
Below his sink, and picked through plastic bags of stuff:
Soaps from hotels; fresh toothbrushes;
Red plastic hairbrushes; orange plastic prescription bottles;
Nail clippers and little curative pads for warts on the skin,
Stuck onto a white cardboard like those tiny dots candies
Kids can play at taking pills with…
I found a store of contact lenses,
The powers -4.00,
And took them all.
My father was wearing glasses now, only glasses,
And lived in a rehabilitation center (for the time being),
And would never drive again,
Except to help my mother parallel park.
I saw with extravagant acuity for the next year or so.
When I left home, I didn’t take very good care of my eyes;
I slept in my contacts on trains,
Or when I was too tired at the end of the night beside my boyfriend;
And in the morning bathroom mirror,
Quite tarnished and with only a small open surface in the center,
I’d wheel my eye – remove the clinging disc –
To relieve it from the irritated red surrounding my watery blue.
In it goes back again after a rinse in solution,
Because I look better without my glasses on.
Somehow my eyes have not worsened, nor improved, in years,
Though reading and writing and lots of computer work have followed.
I’m still -2.75, both eyes,
With a slight astigmatism that seems to come and go.
I used to like the colored contacts, early in my days of wearing contacts,
And took some photos of my eyes an electric blue,
A forest green.
They were beautiful and fake;
I think my father thought that they were fun,
That they looked cool on me,
When I was in the seventh grade.
Glasses show when they are dirty or scratched;
Contacts irritate only the wearer.
You get to be beautiful, free, and irritated sometimes.
If my father had read less…
If my father had been less vain…
He was resplendent, though.
He’s behind glasses now.
*The author will not answer any questions about this poem.