My words have become tiny. They are scribbled down between loose leaf paper lines, a tiny cursive reminiscent of a young boy and a felt tipped pen. Little scrappy words huddled together in the crack above my bed, the jagged yellowish claw the rain brought in, the one that I called ‘cousin’ because I knew it would just stay indefinitely.
So now more than ever I’ve been depending on my eyes. And that ain’t good, maybe.
I tell them to watch and watch carefully. I say, remember and never forget. I tell them to hold on now and step back, slowly. Then at home I remind them of what they’re supposed to do.
My eyes have got some story (the one no one wants to hear.)
They’ve seen concentration camps right here in NYC. They’ve seen hunger and desperation sitting right next to great wealth, leisure and safety. They’ve seen people get lost and why some stay there and little boys who fight and snarl like animals. They’ve seen excess and stupidity. My eyes have seen who you are, who you really are. No joke.
They see big brother lurking. Cameras hidden in light posts and drones. They see intravenous humiliation at Guantanamo and how smart people sell poor folks false hopes. They see all you crazy fucks laughing like snitches in the back room talking shit about people who really are just poor and hopeless and tired. They see into the mud. They see behind doors.
My eyes have seen the extinction of one poet every day for weeks.
Perhaps this is why my eyes are finally growing listless. It is for real. I now need reading glasses to read the small print. I won’t be surprised if one day my sight disappears completely. In my journal I found a page about a dream in which my father lost his eye sight. That could’ve been me.
I blink and squint often. Even when I’m alone. It’s like a tick.
I think— will my words and my sight disappear together? Like lovers on the prowl for a happy ending. What would be left then for someone like me?
Then I’d become just another crazy Puerto Rican. Like my grandmother who was born with nothing and her family died in flames and the nuns who loved her sold her across the seas for nothing more than that. That’s what they did back then.
Without my eye sight and my words, I might become a religious zealot. I’d beg the Gods to save me, be willing to sacrifice my friends and family because they’d all be the devil on the final day of judgment (with the widespread divorce and masturbation)
Perhaps without my eye sight and my words, I’d get a subscription to cancer and let the bloody germ eat at my intestines and spit me into the universe of morphine.
Or maybe, when I’m blind and mute—I’d find some miraculous inner strength, like Helen Keller did or the slaves who thought better not to jump off the ship even though they knew what awaited them was far worse than just a beating.
I doubt it.
Instead, I’m practicing witchery.
I crouch down and burn my spit in a cauldron. I snarl at the flames and watch the tiny red and orange sparks waft up over the dark grey smoke and into the sky. Each spark becomes a firefly and kisses a star. Together they dance. Their light looks down onto me, fond of what I’ve become. They help me cast my magic spell, like little angels born of fire.
Then I chant and swing my arms in the air, my elbows and toes bend, my hips, my belly bare, my hanging breasts clink like champagne glasses and my chin tucks under my chest. All at once, I am up into that black night and I hiss and twist and clap.
This is how I will change things. It will happen in the forest of my soul. In the fire crackling shimmer and whistle of my soul. Hear me?
Yes. I’d be able to bear it then—the blindness and the words dead. The dance would make up for all the wounds and bloody scraped knees I wrap up daily. It would be my call to all the children we lost. It would tell them they are home. With me.