Seven Reflections

by L E Harris

i

 

She has taken my eyes.

All I have left are pink fingerbowls, dark shadowy orbits.

I grow goldfish here, suspended signals of love

In brimming waterholes rimmed with blood.

Fantails flail out like fingers pressing into thick orange lashes.

In this illuminated glass tank, I sense the people staring at me.

The fish writhe in their socket-seas.

 

ii

 

I remember so clearly the first time I saw you; the pale blue walls of the
waiting room,

The way the tetras were so transparent, their thin, nervous bodies,

Their bony waistcoats tipped with aquamarine.

You were there visiting a friend, your opaque visitor’s badge so flimsy

Next to your green peace badge, permanent,

Like a limpet.

Then your smile, unassuming, unpatronizing, as though you knew,

And didn’t care.

 

iii

 

The second place: the sign developing on the window like a cataract,

The too-small tank where the fish dangled as though fastened by their fins

Lifeless.

 

They removed me to another ward where fish struck the glass again and again,

Striving to smash the place they couldn’t reach

Like tiny metal bells.

It made me sad, just watching them, knowing they were there.

Tossing in bed, I damaged my back; my spine extended, a vertebral paper chain.

 

iv

 

The third place was eyeful, cameras glinting on crested walls.

Bones like foam, I walked on crutches slowly.

There were no fish tanks here, but outside the sea chewed on the
sand-stretched beach.

You visited me then, persuaded them I was trustworthy.

We walked seaward; you made me laugh, then pointed out the gulls in moulds of oil-black.

That’s how the psychotherapists are, no mistake.

 

v

 

You showed me the boathouse, the skeletal ships crystallised in salt,

The spar-white planks rising up from the ground- so many ribs.

We sat on the open shore, listened to the sand exhale, watched cold white stars emerge like scales, protracting needle-point patterns

To infinity.

We sat there together until the place was bare and empty,

Until boats silhouetted on to the skyline.

You gazed forward to the lighthouse, its undulations of light and shadow;

I watched your irises, the waves of silent feeling.

 

vi

 

When I want to ignore them now, I remember our first date,

You feeding me white sushi with black chopsticks,

The silver skin still gripping to the flesh, like our inhibitions waiting to be peeled away.

I remember you staring at me, the giant tank between us

Your eyes bending behind the blurred glass like seamless ripples of koi.

That was when you took my eyes.

They won’t let you visit any more; apparently you’ve touched the inlet of my mind.

 

Last night, he offered me new eyes,

clear socially acceptable perspectives,

Tiny celluloid discs, tough like the shell of a mitten crab- plentiful, the same as all others.

He told me that my problems are as transparent as my skin, he can see right through me.

This is unlikely; how can he seize the corners of a moving shore?

 

vii

 

I do not grudge you my blindness.

I hope that you will wear my eyes around your neck, for my love for you was no fluid love

that rises and dips like Braille.

Believe me, it was not in cold blood that I removed them.

Since I cannot love you in safety, I let you keep my eyes.

They will float with you like lights on water,

Tiny portals, my life in yours.