by Stella De Genova
One thing we can always count on in life is change and new endeavors can make that exciting. I have new endeavors to share on a personal level and exciting news about one of our favorite contributing poets.
Here in Chicago, we’ve started creativity/art therapy workshops at Second Sense blind service organization. Our first is Masks & Mayhem where folks are making paper mache masks and will then do some expressive improv from behind the mask. Coming up in November is our creative writing workshop titled Words Wide Open, facilitated by our very own Jeff Flodin. The mask makers are having a great time and opening up as the process moves forward. I can’t wait to see what our new writers produce.
Another wonderful endeavor to share is that one of our contributing poets, Mani G. Iyer has just completed his first writing fellowship at Vermont Studios and besides discovering new changes in himself, his poetic juices are flourishing. We can’t wait to see what’s new! For a taste of Mani’s sensitive writing style, go to The Day I Met Angel Gabriel and scroll our archives for more.
by Nancy Scott
Tilted back in mocking comfort
on my vinyl-covered kitchen table,
grinning gaze fixed on the left,
he waits for me to speak.
He is not one of my dead.
He smiles too much
and still has his own teeth.
Stem curled, moon patient
in his peace of frost-free hum.
I gaze into triangle eyes,
reach my left hand in the wet mouth
that has no tongue.
I am the one
who must speak to my dead
through this carver’s call.
Tell them to stop stealing socks and dropping
Tell them to send me better poems.
Tell them I love their spirits as I did not love
And tell them I know
I must stay here.
Nancy Scott, Easton, PA, is a blind essayist and poet. Her over 600 bylines have appeared in magazines, literary journals, anthologies and newspapers, and as audio commentaries. An essayist and poet, she has published three chapbooks. She won First Prize in the 2009 International Onkyo Braille Essay Contest. Recent work appears in Breath and Shadow, Contemporary Haibun Online, and Stone Voices.
To our subscribers, Sea Monkey in Brittany was originally misspelled (See Monkey). The title has been corrected on the blog page! Our apologies to the author.
by Maribel Steel
Tripping over the sand to reach the shore line, the ball of my white cane jabs at the clumps of matted seagrass. As if caught in a deep bunker on a golf-course, I strike the ground harder, forcing a narrow path to emerge from the dip and lift of spraying sand. “Can’t you put that away now?” Harry asks, amused by my pathetic impersonation of Tiger Woods. I praise his bravery and remind him how close he is standing to the blind traveller wielding her long hard club to the water’s edge. Then I think – maybe he’s right? Why do I need to use my cane on the open expanse where the sky meets the sea? Harry waits as I fold up the carbon fibre rod encrusted with sand. “OK. Now let me hold that. Run! There’s nothing in your way.” He says, thrusting my hand into the wind as if to launch a kite towards the seashore, he hollers, “Go on. You’re as FREE as a sea monkey!” Well, I’ve almost been there, haven’t done that: run carefree along the seashore on the Quiberon Peninsula, feeling the sun and salt on my skin, scuttling into the shallows of the bay where French crabs play. I can only imagine from my home in Melbourne the excitement I would feel being guided by my partner, feet and hands poised and tingling as we plunge into the buoyant Atlantic waters off the coast of Brittany. Seeing the world through my other senses can be as exhilarating as viewing it. My sighted travel companion and I have dared to white-cane trek through parts of Europe to satisfy my yearning to touch foreign landscapes. We have tasted Basque cuisine while touring the towns of Catalonia and felt the chill winds blast us off course as we stomped defiantly to reach Cathar castles in the Pyrenees. I have sat rigid (with glee) while trotting on horseback through the scented meadows of the Massif Central and have waltzed on the balcony of Chartres Cathedral in France under the gaze of stone-gargoyles. I am curious though. How would the salty breeze at the Bay of Biscay feel upon my skin? Would the sense of freedom to fling my cane into the wind be as exhillerating on the sands of Cote Sauvage as I have imagined? You never know. Travelers are dreamers with a difference – they know how to make their dreams appear on the shores of reality. © Maribel Steel – Learn about Maribel at http://www.maribelsteel.com . If you have a travel story with a difference, Maribel is calling for submissions to post on her travel blog, visit www.touchinglandscapes.com. To read the guidelines – she’d love to hear from you!
by David Flament
Pardon me for stealing from Robin Williams and Einstein, but the title seemed appropriate. I was born with vision loss, but not totally blind. I lived a large portion of my life as a high partial and then a mid partial. About 3 years ago I fell off the Glaucoma cliff and lost the rest of my vision. I have also worked in the field of rehabilitation with people with vision loss for almost 12 years. Perhaps all of the clients and professionals I have worked with during that time helped make my transition to life without vision a little easier.
It is that transition that I am writing about. I am definitely not a type A personality and did not look upon this change in my life as a new challenge to be overcome. Neither did I decide to stay at home and think life was over. My blindness is neither a challenge to be overcome nor is it a burden. It is simply a fact of life. That does not mean that I do not have times when I get a little depressed about losing my vision or do not miss things from my life with vision. Of course I do. I think that is normal for anyone going through this big a change in their life. It simply means I choose to focus on what I can do and finding ways to still do the things I want to do.
My first year was mostly just trying to adjust and finding ways to do the things I had to do just to continue working and living. Perhaps the one thing that helped me the most and gave me the most confidence was receiving training from a certified O&M (Orientation and Mobility) instructor. Working with him helped me to go from just getting by to actually becoming an independent traveler. As stupid as it sounds, now I actually get a kick out of finding new ways to do things and from not letting my loss of vision stop me from doing the things I want to do.
Another thing that really helped with my adjustment was something that happened to a friend. This friend has been without vision for over 50 years and has travel skills similar to those of Ben Affleck in the movie Daredevil. One day he mentioned to me that he had a bump on his head, a sore knee and a scratch on his wrist. I asked how all that happened. He told me that it happened on his commute that morning. He went on to explain that no matter how good your travel skills are you will have days where things just do not go right. I found it very comforting to know that even seasoned travelers have bad travel days.
Finally, I think my view on life and my beliefs also helped me with this change. I do not think just because a person has vision loss that they are entitled to any special treatment. However, I will take advantage of programs and services that are offered to people with vision loss: for example, pre-boarding the plane when flying. It makes the boarding process easier to have someone help with finding my seat and it helps make the process smoother for the airline too. Do not be afraid to ask for or accept help when you need it. It does not make you any less independent.
Well that is my story. I hope I did not disappoint you by not driving a Ferrari through downtown streets, or defeating a villain by using my cane as numchucks. While that may be normal for a blind person living in Hollywood, none of that has happened to me. Yet.
David Flament is Manager of the Adaptive Technology Department at Second Sense – beyond vision loss in Chicago, Illinois, U.S. To read more about David, click here and scroll down to his name.