I thought I’d start my blog with the poetry that burst out as I was trying to come to terms with my sight failing. All I had was a diagnosis of Optic neuritis, there was no mention of MS at that stage, it would take a relapse for that particular diagnosis… Oh yes, Baildon is the village I grew up in and the Bank a wonderful heathland where I would walk the dogs. I changed the title of this piece slightly but little else. I leave it as I felt it.
Optic Neuritis 1; Sea Change on Baildon Bank 1993
I wade on footpaths I have run
before my sea-change,
now damage has become my home.
birds cartwheel fragmented fins
to crash in static corals where
once beeches played in sunshine;
far below the muted purrs
of deadly barracuda winding
single-minded ways along the road
do not concern my change.
vast estates of broken roofs
revert to a bed of ancient slate
on which I may soon lie,
or glide above, in hunger,
knowing nothing but my purpose
the lichened lids I cannot shut have crusted,
damned my younger sight,
when this was more well known than dolls
and boys whose heads were cradled
in its heather
I find refuge in millstone grit
and ‘ware the hounds –
I cannot have their certain
friendliness dismayed and melted
to confusion as they sense
a damaged work and let me be –
they rough and tumble past,
too fast for my fish eyes;
I suck in tide and slide
dissolving fingertips on
skull, brow and jaw,
oily nape and shoulder down
the breastbone to the ribs
hunting for my gills.
they must form
how else can I breathe?
Under the oceans of my site I must translate,
or else I will couch here
until my bones are bracken-bleached
and fish eyes lie like marbles
in the heather.
Optic Neuritis 2: remission 1993
I am not fish
I am not fish
I am the tender grass
of springtime scorched,
and praying I will
never drown again
these eyes now merely flinch
before the day’s glaring uncertainty
but if I dare to wither under this,
dear God, do not bring back old oceans,
send instead a season’s gentle rain
to ease the life out of the dust
and numb the pain.
(Note: my details may show on Glenda’s blog, this is temporary and all words and content are Glenda’s own. We will sort the techie bits out and I will disappear, but for now just pretend I am not here! Jane)