Optical Illusions

31 Jul

by Mel Finefrock

I walk on an endless plane where ground and sky are one.

People are characterized by articles of clothing:

Floating T-shirts and pairs of shorts

Contrasting against a non-descript, grayscale world.

Color does come to me sometimes like smatterings of paint—

A blue sky here, a golden sun there, a green cloud of foliage—

Especially red, like the girl in the red sweatshirt from Schindler’s List.

The eye doctor waves hello, but I see her white sleeve, not her tawny hand.

I’ve been known to think a small tree was a person.

I’ve flinched at unknown shadows, even my own.

I turn like a sunflower toward any emission of light.

I have personal firework shows in my head every night

That find their way even into my dreams.

Cones and rods fall away, and I see ghostly yellow and purple ripples.

Blood vessels burst, and my world bleeds red.

If I stare at something long enough, I can make it disappear.

Sometimes, I can find it in me to laugh at these optical illusions…


Mel Finefrock is a senior at the University of North Texas, majoring in literature, minoring in Spanish, and pursuing a twelve-hour certificate in rehabilitation studies. She has Cone/Rod Dystrophy, similar to Retinitis Pigmentosa, and is among the eleventh generation in her family to inherit this condition.  Her  boyfriend Jordan encouraged her to write this poem when she was describing to him what things looked like after a bad bout of vision loss her sophomore year. Though it’s a bit on the darker side, Mel is hoping that upon reading her words, those of you with progressive (and eventually total) vision loss will feel less alone. You can visit Mel’s YouTube channel, where you can hear her reading this piece aloud: www.youtube.com/supertyphoonmelissa .


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