Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsSpring 2023  Vol. 21  No.3
an online journal of literature and the arts
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The Storm

I never asked for blindness, though I asked to fly,
and at least once, I asked for better sight,
so perhaps the gods thought I said vision,

the spiritual kind given to Saint Francis at Verna,
after he fasted and received the five stigmata
and trachoma that blinded him.

And no doubt it was a kindly god,
trying only to help, that gently tore my retinas,
until startled by the blood, he paused,

and so I arrived at the halfway point in my life,
blind in one eye, with ragged sight in the other,
standing in a strange yard that was my own,

with my hands held out as I wandered too close
to branches, scraped my shoulder on our wall.
And my blind eye grew a voice

out of its dark nothing, and began to speak,
saying, Death is a brief tenant,
but suffering makes a small eternity of the soul.

And maybe it was the same god, but remorseful
now and working through my blind eye,
that began to send down the dreams.

Night after night, on a steep hill, running
fast until falling, arms out, my body
came differently alive, and I was sky-bound—

learning how to catch updrafts, steer
through doorways, between trees. Still, when I woke
this morning, the seen and unseen worlds

moving through me like water trying to strike a level balance,
my blind eye commanded, Listen!,
and I heard the rush of evergreens

in a darkening sky. And standing
on my balcony, I saw how far I had fallen
from edge and form, that without clarity

to separate each from each,
I was stumbling closer to the whole—
the approaching storm rolling over the ridge

so fast I could feel it stutter and begin,
my blind eye announcing, Here you will be anointed,
and then, this bright rain on my skin.  

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