the only parts of the body the same
size at birth as they’ll always be.
“That’s why all babies are beautiful,”
Thurber used to say as he grew
blind—not dark, he’d go on
to explain, but floating in a pale
light always, a kind of candlelit
murk from a sourceless light.
He needed dark to see:
for a while he drew on black
paper with white pastel chalk
but it grew worse. Light bored
into his eyes but where did it go?
Into a sea of phosphenes,
along the wet fuse of some dead
nerve, it hid everywhere and couldn’t
be found. I’ve used up
three guesses, all of them
right. It’s like scuba diving, going down
into the black cone-tip that dives
farther than I can, though I dive
closer all the time.
William Matthews, “Eyes:” from Selected Poems and Translations, 1969-1991. Copyright © 1992 by William Matthews. Reprinted with the permission of Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved, www.houghtonmifflinbooks.com.
Source: Selected Poems and Translations 1969-1991
(Little Brown and Company, 1992)