Facial Blindness*

Her brittle old tortoise shell prescriptions
Blur a head of softly graying curls
He needs a cut, she whispers, always to herself.
Anyone in or not in the grocery store line that afternoon.
Recognizing
Cantaloupe, honeydew, whole milk
Lettuce heads and newly sprouted wheat, and
Baby spinach asleep in the sway of her basket.
A figure furiously waves from ahead of him,
As if he’s about to shoot the games winning point,
Calling his name
Louder than a fool.
God knows everyone by name.
Thankfully.
No one knows how old a person grows
When you meet them again for the first time
Every day grows old the second time.
Meeting a mirror,
Waving at a mistake.

She imagined him drawing
On her insides by
Some mysterious ancient men in the caves
of France with
Sepia stick figures or during the war
Kilroy was here.
Words and pictures.
Guilty of cervical vandalism.
Warm looks exchanged and
Holding him in her
knowing glance,
“Mother, it’s you.”

*Prosopagnosia – a brain disorder of the occipital and temporal lobes that doesn’t allow a person to recognize another person’s face. It’s as if looking at someone through a dense fog. Helpful in recognizing a person by sight include physical quirks and traits, for example a severe limp, large glasses, a very tall person, or bright hair, etc. Without any guideposts even a husband can look straight through his wife in a mall and never know they’d passed one another at all. The poem imagines an anecdote related to me by an acquaintance of mine who has had prosopagnosia his entire life. He could not recognize his own mother in line at a grocery store after she’d gotten new prescription glasses and had forgotten to tell her son. And he’d forgotten to tell her that those old glasses were his only queue…

What’s Eating Me? What I Cannot Eat.

Webster’s New English Dictionary online
Definition of die, for English Language Learners:

  • to stop living
  • to end life in a specified state or condition
  • to have or suffer (a specified kind of death)

What happened to the singular of dice? Even Webster’s occasionally leaves out an obvious definition.

Eat. Even one meal a day to nourish my body and fuel my mind to stay alive and alert. I cannot eat hearty meals of rich tasty foods any longer. Once upon a time my tongue boasted the umami fifth flavor capability using rare taste buds that gave me the title of “celebrity chef” to friends and family. The Japanese describe it as a “subtle savory” and there’s debate among biologists over whether everyone genetically participates in the subtle delicate flavors. These days mostly soup – matzoh ball specifically – gets past my lips and all those inactive taste buds to settle in my stomach. My entire digestive system breaks down and becomes my canary in the coal mine of this body I so love and hate at once.

My intestines are akin to an old car’s cooling system. I know it’s time to get a new car but I love the old one too much to give it up. Pouring more money into it only gets me a few months or a year, or if I’m lucky, longer. But the fact is, deep down I know when it’s time to leave well enough alone and take that last long ride until the engine breaks down and even throwing money into it won’t save the beloved once reliable form of transportation.

Of course, how couldn’t I feel just run of the mill, three-letter “sad” sometimes. Yet I transform my sadness and anger in ways it’s difficult to understand unless you’ve a death sentence requires transformation into another more palatable emotion. Instead of running away from my disease I try to figure out how to strengthen my mind body connection. Still slightly uncertain of my feelings in these matters, I think I may just keep going and going until I cannot take much more or I become free forever. Philosophically, I believe we are not responsible for anyone but ourselves and that this very moment is the only moment that matters.

During the limited allotted time in our borrowed bodies, born to learn everything we can and until we must return the body to release our energy back to the universe where it originated. To think we are the same stuff the stars are made of and every atom was created at the Big Bang along with the galaxies and multi verses, the stars and novae, the planets and moons, humbles me with divine awe and I’m no longer afraid of anyone or anything. Especially not death.

Even with big, mind bending ideas as these, on a more pedestrian level, I have to say that having my parents both die within the past 5 years leaves me with a lonlely sense of not having a place to call “home” anymore. This is a most difficult predicament for someone who has tasted the sweetness of unrequited love. In retrospect I’m probably not alone in my contradictions and imperfections. At least I hope I’m not the only one with scars not afraid to show them to anyone with the courage enough to ask to see them. But just look closely and you’ll see my scars during a meal, my sleeves rolled up in anticipation of another digestible, soothing bowl of chicken soup.

I trip the light metastatic.

Look into My Crystal Ball, or The Writer as Telepath

The blank page: at times a writer’s inanimate nemesis. The written output, the writer’s words lend themselves to an infinite life with inasmuch potential. This simple premise suggests a complex hypothesis: a writer’s output can bridge the gap between art and science, alchemy and physics, space and time. The writer becomes a telepath sending messages into the future for a reader to interpret. Somewhat like a clairvoyant or perhaps the act exists in the realm of remote seeing, where one person would send a thought or image across time and space or pick up images from maps or clues designed to lead the seer to a specific area for finding, for instance, another country’s nuclear weapon silo.

Interesting to consider these assumptions imbue alternative meanings to the act of reading. You immediately see the past and derive a picture of the past, or the future in science fiction or fiction generally by interpreting words laid out as clues by the writer.

Extending the conceit of my satirical discourse, astrophysicists might look for wormholes between the covers of a book rather than through the lens of mathematics. A writer collapses the past and future at the every moment in the continuum of time when another person reads their words. Without control over who reads and when they read, the writer interprets and translates physical or imagined information to convey meaning. Recall for a moment any biography you’ve read of a living or once living person. Is it factual or to a degree is it fictionalized through the writer’s mind to the page, still applicable in autobiographies?

Might I suggest that both reader and writer together create a closed circuit to bend the time space continuum. Reading uses clairvoyance and writing, telepathy, to communicate. Both acts indelibly change the past and the future. As the reader becomes a telepath who interprets the messages being sent from another time and place and create meaning that may have an impact on themselves or in some instances one or an infinite many others. I write messages for future others to receive. How far in the future will determine the degree to which my words are interpreted based on several key factors.

First, cultural distance between me and the reader or receiver. I’d bet if you’re reading this now, you’re not too far in time away from me and your physical space is not too different from mine. If you’re a Martian colonist reading this 100 years from relative “now”, I’m no longer alive and my meaning must be left to the receiver to recreate any meaning from my words.

That person can change the past by interpreting my meaning, my words, and something about me that may or may not be true. So I can change history (now) and change the future (tomorrow) by writing something evocative and capturing enough mindshare to get you to think about something.

Just a thought that provoked some lively conversation this Sunday night. Time to give my iPad a rest, wish my husband love and pleasant dreams, give my cat Simon a good petting, and ready myself for another week. A week when I hope to fend off the busyness that would have my attention rather than using my powers of mental telepathy and sending my remote viewers something to chew on from here in the past.