II. At the Beach, Venice, California
III. The Favorite Place Score
Seeing with the Heart (1994)
I. Newly Blind
I am a man of taste and have many lovely things around my house. My friends would say that all my life, I've cultivated beauty far too much. Handsome friends, dashing lovers. I sometimes think that's why I'm doomed no more to see. Now I have to see the beauty that's within. Seeing with the heart is hard. I fear I'll never learn the art, be confined to quick encounters, helped and helpers. I cannot see if they are ugly or have charming faces- those who guide me over crosswalks, into elevators, down into the subway. I cannot tell if they would be the ones I'd trust, though some I get to talking with, exchanging numbers. Now I have to go by timbre of voice, by delicacy of touch.
At the Beach, Venice, California
I'm hushed up in my wheelchair at the boardwalk, the purple sea inviting me to its unfoldings. I want to leap up, miracles in my legs, and skitter like a mad sandpiper into the waves. It's not suicide I want, no kind of losing, but contact with the massive man inside me, a woman's singing, a unifying. The sea says, "Rise, rise!" I stick out my tongue. As a child I sat up in bed in the middle of the night. I dangled my legs over the side. I stared at those twigs which did not seem mine, white and goose-pimpled in the moonlight. I willed them to be healed, to be long, strong and manly. If I had faith enough, they said, it would happen. I rock in my machine, dreaming into a blaring bar. I stretch myself up on my arms, tall as I can, to order a drink. "I can't hear you," says the bartender, "speak up, speak up!"
The Favorite Place
You look at the absence at my side, the air that might have been an arm, the sleeve of emptiness neatly pinned. You are curious, I imagine, as to how I lost it. Was I born without it? Was I left-handed? Do men not ask me out because of it? Have I had children, and if so, did I tend to them as a mother should? My face is good, you notice, and I have nice long legs. I might have been a model. But all because a lover left me at eighteen, I tried to throw myself under a train and missed. They found the arm on the platform. At the hospital, they tried to sew it back but the flesh wouldn't take, and I was cut off too high up for prosthesis. I learned to write left-handed. I carried my babies in the crook of my left arm. I do have sex, thank you, and my husband has no complaints. Sometimes he kisses the space where my arm used to be and says, "This place is my favorite. Because of this, I hold you specially mine. You are whole and you are beautiful, as if you had been born this way."