The eye reminds me of my mother's liquid eyes. They are black, blackness
radiating from the pupil, underlined and sheltered by the black of the lashes
and brow. The skin around them is creased and feathery from rubbing. She
cannot sleep and this reduces her to tears. Her eyes swell up: the lashes
bristle. In the sea of tears are two pufferfish navigating the night sky,
the moon and the ceiling. Her restlessness causes my father to take blanket
and sleep outside, beneath the moon, on an army cot.
My first shiner is not even slightly related to the bruise. Bruises are
sobering, pungent but muffled. A black eye stabs outwards, giving itself
an arena of darkness. It is the obscene puffed sac of a bullfrog, back claw
dug in the hindquarters of the mate; winking, one lid lingers moistly on
What does Genet call it - "a black eye--a fistful of violets?"
The dark line of ink at the lid, delicately flooding the inner eye until
it appears as a pale turquoise puddle beneath the eyes. A shell of magenta
cropped by a grey swath--the streaming rays from the cooked cornea. Even
orchids, with their pudenda interiors, cannot approach the puckered and
fringed interiors of the sliding whale blubber that the normally minnowish
eye has become. Neither a birthmark nor a tattoo compel the human eye as
much as another eye, functioning no longer to siphon in sights but rather
to draw up and gorge itself on blood that belongs deep beneath the surface.
When Marilyn sees my eye, she glances at my fist and frowns: you did
something bad, didn't you.
No, I say, it's not all of me; you must separate the parts, you
must separate the clean from the unclean, the good from the evil. The ear
does not know what the eye has done. Only the eye acted and it acted out
of a childish delight: the desire to see. Then put out the eye.
Even with one eye, I want to see everything: there is a sense of luxuriant
waste here, our perception spilled and leaking into the rainbow swizzles
of oil stretched across the rainwater. Our thoughts are no longer a piece
of hard candy glowing translucent on the pavement but hopelessly dazzled,
I tell her, sternly, that the greed of my eye has been punished. I wear
an eyepatch that I have made, condemning this eye to darkness, cursing it
for wanting to see. I finally remove it when the doctor tells my mother
that it could cause blindness. Now, on my left, all I see is a bright light.
I am fifteen. Too much goodness, I think, is searing the cornea, cauterizing
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