KIRSTEN SUNDBERG LUNSTRUM
It is sometimes a pool and sometimes a vacancy. Other times it is as thick and tangible as the wall of a room he has stepped into and now cannot leave.
He is forgetting what it was to see, forgetting the visual world. This panics him. He remembers colors, the shapes of things. The song of a bird in a tree is a kind of invisibility; but because he can no longer see the feather, he questions the sound too. Is he losing his mind as well as his eyes?
The visual world is no more or less real than his own dreams now. If asked to name the color of his wife’s garden roses, his car, the leaves of the oak outside his front door in October, he could say from memory red, blue, orange, but he could not be certain that in doing so he was not making himself a liar.
He cannot remember if his wife’s eyelashes are pale or dark. She once had freckles, but perhaps they have paled with age. He wishes he could ask, but what an offense! How do you say to your wife, What do you look like? Are you fading? It occurs to him that woman he pictures in his mind when he kisses her might look nothing like the woman he is holding in his arms, and this is both exciting and horrible. What would he tell her if she knew? Where his imagination diverges from reality there is inevitable betrayal.
Some days he believes he is the perpetrator of this betrayal, and other days he is the victim.
Some days he would rather lose his sight entirely and be free to imagine everything.
On the other hand, he worries that because what he cannot see may not exist, the concrete and certain world will only continue to get smaller and smaller every day. And soon he will be a man in a box. He thinks about the caterpillars he used to catch and trap in shoeboxes when he was a boy, the way they rose up on their back legs and stood when he lifted the box lid, their bodies bristling among the grass clippings he’d stuffed inside as feed. They strained out of the shadows, reaching toward the light.
He doesn’t know what it will mean when he can no longer see even the shadows.