Just Black

The mother of a son who is diagnosed as blind reflects on the diagnosis, in this poem.

By Diane

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be blind?
To see nothing?
Not faces, nor places.
Just black, pitch black, jet-black, a black as thick as gooey molasses?
A world without pictures?

Blindness conjures up images of white canes tapping to and fro….
Tapping out a rhythm like a woodpecker's peck.
Blindness hides behind dark glasses and begs us to stare…
Perhaps not so politely, as we wonder, "What would it be like?"

The blind cannot see like you and me,
Yet neither can we.
Are we not equally as blind, differently yet the same?
Sure we may have eyes that see but do we really see?
How many sunsets have you painted on your mind lately?
How many bouncing butterflies burst into mind?
Could you describe the moon last night
Or the mountains that etch the sky?

Surely we that have sight should know such things,
Appreciate such things?
Savour such things? But do we?

I know blindness well. My son was born blind. Really blind!
My son would never see a sunset, the moon or a bouncing butterfly.
My son would never see faces or places.
His world would be black, pitch black, jet black,
A black as thick as gooey molasses.

I remember well the day the doctor told me, "Your son cannot see".
On that day I too dropped into darkness,
"How could it be?"
I lost sight of the life I dreamed of for my son".
But gradually we both began to see, just a little differently.
Slowly my son began finger painting a picture of his world.
His little fingers traced everything.
When I held him he would run his fingers around the landscape of my face,
Over "Cheek ridge" and up "Nose mountain",
Even into the wet caverns of my mouth.
He loved my mouth the best.
I don't know exactly why,
But he'd place his hand upon my lips and just feel the vibrations
Of my words.
My son delighted in the shrill squeak of his favorite toy
Against his ear.
He'd smile at the simple sound of my footsteps coming near.
Brad's world was beautiful to him.

Is yours? What's your world like? Do you really see?
What pictures are you painting on your mind?
What sights, what sounds, what sweet fragrances?
How blind are you?
I said I knew blindness well. I said my son was blind and so was I.

My blindness was different.
Somewhere, somehow I lost my sight too,
My ability to see beauty.
In fact I somehow lost sight of life itself.
I blamed my past. I blamed God. I blamed the world.
And I could not see.
I could not see what was happening to me.

Clouds darkened the sky.
Thunder storms of rage ripped through my mind,
Blocked out the sun.
Rivers of tears turned into seas of self pity,
Till all I could see was black, pitch black, jet-black,
A black as thick as gooey molasses.
And I was stuck in it.

But you know what?
Like my son I learned to see, just differently.
At first I merely finger painted like him,
Small strokes, tentative strokes
Exploring my world,
Just to see….

I saw the occasional sunset, a fire in the sky
I saw the odd bouncing butterfly
And yes the moon too,
Smiling moons, surprised moons, winking moons.

At first I'd wipe my eyes in disbelief.
Could it really be?
Could I really see?
The sights, the sounds, the feelings, the smells,
I heard the babbling brooks and the waves walloping the shore.
I felt the kiss of a warm summer breeze,
Breathed in the succulent scent of the cedar trees.
And more, oh so much more.

Blindness hides behind many kinds of darkened glasses.
The truly blind are the least of these.
More blind by far, I think WE are
That have our vision but DO NOT see.