Optophobia

There were many things we did not want our eyes to know, because we did not trust them.

We did not believe in crying mothers, leaving lovers, dead ends, or lifeless straws of corn.

No.

We could not trust our eyes.

So we walked with our eyes closed and our arms spread out like book pages.

So that whatever came rushing at us was a secret only our ears knew and a hymn only our skins could sing to.

But even with eyes closed we see the wars that seep out of bones and call out ‘mother’.

We see bodies walk like short diseases and swallow the fire that screams out of dark holes until all that floats in stomachs are smoke and old stories.

Didn’t your father teach you how to bend the words you could not carry?

Didn’t he teach you how to fold them again and again until they were small enough for you to chew?

So that the jagged edges of your teeth grind the tricky letters into dust and your tongue embraces them with the ease that Tzahal soldiers hold H&K G3s and M14s in rapid showers of dust, blood and curses.

Of numb.

And afraid.

Because every day you lie spread-eagled in your deficiency and remember the days when they held your hands and admired the horizontal lesions that run the full perimeter of your temples from old entablatures that are supposed to protect you from the elements.

And you notice like you always do that their fingers never quite lock into yours.

But you stay put, because you know that these grounds will look for your feet and these suns will itch for your eyes.

That these metaphors will hunt you like empty spaces until they become songs for the people who miss trains and birthdays and church.

And as the night breeze lectures down my neck and teaches my back to know how many mountains remain unclimbed and how many beds remain unslept in.

And how many miracles come in sizes too big.

And how many times I would look into my father’s eyes and see that I did everything wrong.

That while other children taught their fingers to breathe along the rough patches of their mother’s backs, I sat and thought my way through shards of glass that shine like street lights that lead you to more street lights and more..

Until I remembered to walk with my eyes closed and my arms spread out like book pages so that whatever came rushing at me was a secret only my ears knew and a hymn only my skin could sing to.

A little off key but just good enough to keep my eyes closed.

The End

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