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…

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