How I Learned to Love a Blind Man
Children again at Delphi, the location of the earth mother’s shrine before Apollo came along and killed the python. Blind old Caleb and I sat near the omphalos — the navel of the world — anxious as unborn babies, waiting for something to happen. Looking out over the blue mountains, suspended in a mist, like waves stricken still by a spell, I half expected the earth to shake and swallow us back into its womb. With my heel, I dug pentagrams into the dirt and all of those star eyes looked up at heaven, while Caleb’s eyes rolled uselessly around in his head, unseeing, but beautiful, like a prophet of doom.
Occasionally, children would taunt him in the street, yell after him, call him the most hideous names. Only on rare occasions did he turn around or say anything back. I never understood how he could shrug off such insults and continue to tap his white cane along the pavement and laugh under his breath at their foolishness. I suppose he’d lived long enough not to be bothered by such small things, while I was still too young and sensitive. Naïvely, I wished to shield him from whatever evil there was in the world, the evil that he could not see.
His blindness lent him a strength of will, though. There was something more powerful in sensation that the seeing did not recognize. So much of the world was light and color. There was an eroticism or pornographic thrill to the visual nature of life. I never made the connection until we first made love and he could not see me. Could not see my small little pear breasts or the bloom of hair between my legs. Nothing, I was nothing, but blackness until he pressed his hands over my body and caressed every part of flesh that covered me. On my back, naked and sprawled out, I stared at the ceiling while he labored away as a sculptor would, sometimes even working over the same area twice. It went on for what seemed like eternity and as pleasurable as it was, I could not help but feel impatient. How easily one wants to slip into one’s old ways and bad habits. All of my ex-lovers had undressed me quickly, sometimes violently, greedy to see everything, all the parts that excited them, that they had seen a million times before in magazines and on screen. I had become accustomed to it, took advantage of it. It was all due to the hindrance of vision. Living in darkness there is no such thing as immediate pleasure. In that way, blindness was a gift, had a certain element of anticipation to it that the seeing had long since forgotten about.
‘I don’t feel any closer to anything.’ Caleb arched his back and a soft cracking sound interrupted the silence.
‘Somehow I knew you would say that.’
‘It sounds beautiful.’ I was not just Caleb’s window to the world, I was not just what people accused me of being: his dumb young guide dog. Oh that girl, she is young enough to be his daughter. No, for what no one else understood was that he laid closer to my thoughts than anyone else ever had. How much one could learn from simply listening to another, from seeing how their mind operated. Caleb did not fall in love with an image of a woman, he fell in love with the mind of a woman and that was a difference that was as foreign and astounding as anything. From time to time, I would describe something and stop short, begin to edit and censor myself, fearful of revealing some unconscious element of my personality that would cause Caleb to fall out of love with me. As soon as I would begin to stutter or hold my rambling tongue back, Caleb would grab my forearm and press it gently, as if saying go on, you’re doing fine. ‘I don’t think I deserve you as my pair of eyes.’
With my head on his shoulder, I pretended to be blind. The blue misty mountains and the stone circle disappeared. If I had possessed such a strength of will, I would have scooped out my eyes, washed them clean, and left two black wishing wells behind, all for him. The idea of surrendering a part of oneself for another was not so strange. People did it all of the time. I was just another woman in love, no different than the rest.
All I wanted was to be his equal, live as prophet and prophetess forever. We’d see all that was coming before it came. Children would toss stones, aiming at the small bloodied and blackened holes below our foreheads, but we’d only smile and move on. There would never be any anger or resentment inside of us, for what a sense of calm and composure there was in knowledge, of knowing what others would never know, of knowing what others could never possibly know.
None of it could ever be and as I opened my eyes, squinting into the brightness, I knew that. Like a coward, I never wanted the mirrors to break in my eyes, because Caleb would have no use for me any longer. A blind man surely did not require a girl with no eyes when he had no vision himself.
Amarie Fox is currently earning her BA in English Literature. She does not have many accolades or accomplishments to mention, because for the most part she spends far too much time painting watercolor portraits of strangers, caring for her four cats, and tendering to a rather pathetic looking flower garden.