|I stalked her|
in the grocery store: her crown
of snowy braids held in place by a great silver clip,
her erect bearing, radiating tenderness,
the way she placed yogurt and avocadoes in her basket,
beaming peace like the North Star.
I wanted to ask, “What aisle did you find
your serenity in, do you know
how to be married for fifty years, or how to live alone,
excuse me for interrupting, but you seem to possess
some knowledge that makes the earth burn and turn on its axis—”
But we don’t request such things from strangers
nowadays. So I said, “I love your hair.”
I took Rochi to the ophthalmologist for a peripheral vision test, which in itself is an adventure in spelling if that kind of thing gets you going. It works for me. There’s just the smallest of thrills in seeing the squiggly red line disappear when I finally get the spelling right, and I firmly believe in the value of small thrills.
The ophthalmologist’s office is diligent about distancing. When you arrive, you call reception from your car. They invite you in when they’re ready for you. Luckily an obliging banyan tree in the parking lot offered us a patch of shade.
After the test, we log-jammed with a young couple at the front door, all of us awkwardly trying to keep our distance. The woman held it open for me as I passed and said, “You have beautiful eyes.” I noticed that the skin around one of hers was badly scarred, the eye milky and unfocused.
Walking through the parking lot, I heard her remark to her partner, “I can’t see a damned thing since they put those drops in my eye. Now I’m blind in both eyes.” She laughed as she climbed into their battered truck. I admired her spunk.
And then I wondered, as I unhooked my mask, how she had determined that my eyes are beautiful. Or if it was an intuition. Or just something people say. And then I wondered what had happened to her, wondered if I could ask, “Gee, what happened to your eye?”
It seems like medicine has gone about as far as it can for Rochi. His steroids have been tapered down to almost nothing. His blood glucose is nearly normal. Both the ophthalmologist (!) and neurologist have said there’s no sign of any physical problem beyond the nerve damage inside his head and there’s nothing more they can do about that. And so we rest and do gentle yoga and eat organic food from the garden, along with the occasional hot dog, of course, and wait for Mother Nature and Madame Pele to do their magic.
All the while, the pandemic rages around us, around the world, at the same time both soul-wrenching and completely irrelevant. And I spend my days looking for the beauty in humanity, the glimpses into other people’s lives, the eyes as gateways to the soul, to the foundations of life and the reasons to keep living it.