Archive | February, 2016

Jury Duty

24 Feb

by Andrea Kelton

A few weeks after I was diagnosed with uveitis, my inner eye inflammation flared up. Blurry vision made driving impossible.  I sat at the dining room table considering whether or not to go on health leave, when the mailman delivered my answer.  My first jury duty summons.  Problem temporarily solved.  I couldn’t teach on Monday. I had to perform my civic duty.

I rode the Gratiot bus downtown to Detroit’s Frank Murphy Hall of Justice.  My group of prospective jurors entered a courtroom where the judge informed us that this eminent domain case might last three to four weeks.

That was fine with me. By that time the steroids would work their magic and I could return to teaching.  I answered questions from several attorneys and was directed to take a seat in the jury box.

Thirteen similar cases were combined into one trial. The first attorney, a young man wearing a rumpled brown suit, represented the New Cherry Bar.  His courtroom delivery reminded me of TV”s disheveled cop, Colombo. “Not only has the city condemned my client’s property to make way for a senior citizen high rise,” he said, speaking directly to the jury.  ‘But the city has not offered my client fair compensation.”  To emphasize this point, he presented an expert witness.  A realtor confirmed that the three most important factors in determining a property’s value are “Location, location, location.”

That testimony prompted the judge to call for a recess until the court could be driven to see the properties first hand. The next day we all piled into vans and drove to one of Detroit’s most neglected neighborhoods.  A sign nailed to a seedy structure read New Cherry Bar.  The other properties were just as dilapidated.  I thought the city’s offers were fair.

Our jury bonded over the hours we spent together while the lawyers negotiated deals. A woman juror introduced me to Shaklee products and the concept of food and supplements as medicine.  One day, I’d baked a cake for the judge’s birthday and he joined us for a slice.

The Pekin Pavilion’s impeccably dressed attorney chose to try his case before the jury. He wore the most luxurious suit I’d ever seen.  With a flare for the dramatic, he presented his star witness.  An elderly Chinese man took the stand.  His client, the family patriarch and restaurant founder, only spoke Mandarin.  After complicated legal wrangling, the court allowed the owner’s granddaughter to serve as interpreter.  That cumbersome testimony entertained us all afternoon.

After 3 ½ weeks, the judge gave us our instructions. We were to consider the value of the property.  Nothing else.  Not the business interruption.  Not the furnishings.  Just the fair market value of the property.

The majority of our jury didn’t heed the judge’s orders. We paid Pekin Pavilion twice the amount they’d asked for!  The look on their attorney’s face was as priceless as his attire.

A few years later, I saw a local TV news story on the redevelopment of Jefferson Avenue. Featured was the million dollar New Pekin Pavilion.  I’m not 100% sure, but I think the elderly owner gave his interview in English.

 

Andrea Kelton received her uveitis diagnosis in 1974. She recently retired after 37 years as a highly valued teacher.  Andrea attends a weekly memoir writing class, “Me, Myself and I” taught by author, Beth Finke.

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A Love Poem

14 Feb

by Mani G. Iyer

On the sofa for two

under dim lights, we snuggle.

She’s reading a poem to me

in her patient voice

as she does every night,

a page a night.

 

This November night, Hafiz declares:

The subject tonight is love

and for tomorrow night as well.

As a matter of fact, I know of no better topic

for us to discuss until we die!

 

Who does Hafiz want to discuss love with?

 

I think it is an earthy woman

he did not have to go far to find.

Her breath, an ocean breeze,

she smells of fragrant flowers

with hints of soil pounded by recent rain.

Her silent wisdom resonates sure

as the chime from a temple bell.

Her heart swells with giving

forgiving and forgetting,

reading a love poem

one November night

to an enchanted poet.

 

Mani G. Iyer was born and raised in Bombay, India and has lived in the United States since 1985. He is deaf-blind due to Usher Syndrome.  He became deaf by the age of 4, night-blind by the age of 12, and now has very little usable vision.  Writing has always been a passion for Mani.He has done a writing fellowship at the Vermont Studio Center and is now working on his MFA in Poetry at Lesley University.  He is one of the first and favorite contributors to Vision Through Words.

Street Corner Religion

10 Feb

by Jenny Jones

I was walking from the bus to my office one cold morning. I was standing at the corner of an intersection waiting for the light to change and cupping my one free hand over my nose and mouth to stay warm. A man walked up and said, “Hi doggie, what’s your name?” I said, “Please don’t talk to him because he is working.” The man then starts talking to me and says he used to be on oxygen, but then God healed him. “Oh that’s nice,” I said.

My ears perk up and I realize that the light has changed, and we are so close to getting to my warm office. I give Racer the hand gesture for forward, and don’t have to say anything; he just starts leading me across. The man stays put, but I hear him calling after us, “I prayed, and prayed, and prayed.”

His words just hung in the chilly air echoing on and on. It’s weird but I felt like my dog was in agreement with me that this guy was a quack. Maybe what he had to share with me was meaningful but his delivery was lacking. I couldn’t help but wonder why he had decided to share that bit of information with me. Was he indicating that his illness was similar to my blindness and he wanted to offer praying as a solution? Would he have shared this information with just anyone at the corner? I can’t help but feel that it had something to do with my disability.

Multiple times I’ve been approached by other strangers who try to tell me that there are doctors who can fix my blindness. They are certain that they have read somewhere about a procedure that will help me. I assure them that I visit a specialist every year who would inform me of any cutting edge remedies. I’ve come to terms with my blindness, but apparently people I sometimes encounter have not. If I were to tell that man my true feelings about praying to be healed, I would say that it would feel too arrogant to ask God to heal me. I would rather God spend his energy on more pressing issues, like granting food to the starving children around the world. Blindness, I can deal with. Going without food, now that’s a problem.

 

Jenny Jones lives with her guide dog Racer in Utah. She was born with cataracts. Retinal detachments took the rest of her sight when she was in her 20s. She loves to read but writing is new to Jenny. She finds it helpful and hopes to continue.  Jenny has a blog at: Jennysjourney464.blogspot.com