A Vision


Once upon a time,
her keratectomy was deemed
a success.
“Sheer wizardry,”
jubilated the surgeon
of his masterpiece.
He exulted: When the bandages
were unswathed,
when the work of anatomical art
was unswaddled,
the formerly myopic woman would see
wholly
as she last had when a child of six.

It came to pass:
the bandages were removed.
Even as he had promised,
it was like a fairytale.

She well remembered one story.
The wizard had
a castle
with windows of
several colours.
Opal blue.
Carmine red.
Slate grey.
Inky black.
Some appeared clear,
but shimmered with small silver
haloes around the casements.
How she had longed to live there.

But now,
the castle is her
head.
She must look
out of all
windows simultaneously.

The shade hurts.
The sun hurts.
A passing robin is
edged in blue.
A migraine aura
colours her always vision.

The fairy tale has fractured into
the nightmare reality of
the woman with Kaleidoscope eyes.
She wants to hood herself in
the blank, pure, seeing pages before
once upon a time.


Questions and Answers

What inspired “A Vision”?

“A Vision” focuses on a keratectomy (laser surgery to correct nearsightedness) gone wrong. As someone seriously myopic (when I got my first glasses as a child, I was astonished that leaves had edges, had texture, were separate from one another!), I have thought about laser surgery but have been dissuaded by possible negative side-effects, many of which happen to the girl in the poem, so that her fairytale dream of “happily ever after” becomes something other. The poem also explores a power imbalance: the surgeon, far too pleased with his work, is male while the patient is female. …Vision of all sorts is so important!

What poetic techniques did you use in “A Vision”?

I like to combine technical vocabulary and subject matter, increasingly medical, with the lyric poem. I am working on a manuscript, Cat Scratch Fever, about sickness, growing from a mysterious illness I suffered a few years ago. The personal is the political no more so than in one’s own body. In serious play, I’m seeing how humour is able to mitigate disquieting subject matter.


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