Tag Archives: travel

The Chain

23 Nov

by Reja-e-Busailah

My Seeing Eye dog senses we are bent

on a long journey, long enough to keep us for a full day

chained to one seat on one plane.

 

She goes out of her mind with zeal,

like a child in the act of opening

the long-awaited present,

dream being realized,

and before I know it,

before we set out,

she has thrown all temperance to the dogs

and emptied to the drains

a bowl of water bubbling to the brim:

She knows

as though trafficking with powers

far above and beyond my ken;

and that’s the full extent of her innocence

and that’s the full limit of her association.

 

Then in despair I tear my hair,

or what is left of it,

less over what has passed

than over what is to come:

 

My vision,

my guide through the world’s pitfalls and snares

the only guardian to whose care

I would commit my whole being,

she who empowers me to make myself at home

in the mightiest of cities

most awe-inspiring,

she who enables me to relish

the Big Apple to the fullest,

frees me of fear when at its beaches,

its parks, its avenues, and squares,

at its stations grand, small, and modest,

in office, store, restaurant, and classroom,

she who fills me with fearlessness

when down deep in its big belly,

among the terrible snakes of B.M.T.s and I.R.T.s lying still or running,

not far from the treacherous serpent

disguised as the Third Rail.

She knows all,

and yet this angel,

this guardian angel,

can see no farther after all

 

than those who designed the feathered arrow

and took time off to rest,

and watched a dream the fall of albatross,

or than those who engender,

just to gaze spellbound,

that device, wondrous and beastly,

which travels far and fast

to bust the kidneys and bladders of continence.

 

Both she and they are cause-conscious,

both consequence-blind

in their calculations and traffickings

except when the shrewd inventors

are in the custody of cup or bottle:

 

Then in all fairness they do hold an edge,

a decisive edge over her,

for they can tell, she can’t I think,

the compelling if serpentine link

between first blush and crucial kiss,

between, pardon the impropriety, guzzle and piss—

the kind of chain least on a Seeing Eye’s mind.

Reja-e Busailah was born in Jerusalem and now lives in Indiana, U.S. He has been totally blind since infancy, from before the end of his first year. He has published poems in a variety of little magazines on different subjects. This poem is from a collection of poems, Poems Out of Sight, which he hopes to publish in the near future. Reja-e also in the process of having a memoir about his childhood published within the next few months.

Stressed

4 Jan

by Pamela Berman

I feel so frustrated sometimes. Why can’t I just do what I need to do and not feel this awful stress breathing down my neck, my shoulders or is it in my legs today?  I know where I need to go, I know how to get there and for some gnawing reason, the stress is there.  O and M, check, I got it down. I know where I’m going and I know exactly how to get there. It’s simple, I just walk out the east side door of my building and just walk to the corner, stop, turn left, cross the street and walk down the block to the alley to relieve my guide dog. Hmm…What if he doesn’t stop at the corner?  Oh, that’s ok, I’ll know when I’m there. What if he crosses me on an angle and we’re not walking east on the north side of the street?  Will I know?  I will pay really close attention so we won’t veer, so we’ll stay on target, but there’s that stress again! Why does she have to come with us?  Today she’s in my head, just throbbing, as if all the sounds of the city weren’t enough, now I’ve got to have this pounding sensation going on in my head.  Don’t I have enough going on?!  I’ve got to safely cross the street, find a safe relieving area for my sweet boy and then find my way to the bus stop. Oh my God! Is the bus there now?  Who cares, I can’t board without first giving my sweet little boy an opportunity to go to the bathroom.  I owe it to him to keep him comfortable and safe.  I’m the one stressed here and I don’t want to put any stress on him, not if I can help it. Forget finding the alley, who knows if there even is an alley.  I’ll just give him an opportunity to go here, near where there should be an alley, or maybe where there is an alley.  My poor boy, is he comfortable?  Is he happy or is he stressing too?  I’m fretting over trying to figure out if I’ll be able to tell when a bus arrives at the bus stop and did mydog go, or does he have to go?  Well, I’ve given him enough time, I think, and we don’t want to miss our bus. So, now it’s time to conquer the bus stop.  Where is it?! We’re on the north-east corner, just west of Wabash, check, but are we in the bus stop?  Are we a little to the right or a little to the left or are we more than a little off our target?  Then we hear it, it’s a bus and we hurry around some obstacles, think it was a trash can, but maybe it was a planter, who knows, ‘cause I sure don’t want to be touching anything foreign outside here.  We hurry to the bus door only to find there were a bunch of other people waiting to get on the bus too.  Part of me is relieved, the other part is hoping that we didn’t just barge our way to the front of the line. This is when I love having my boy with me.  He never minds if I blame him for barging to the front of the line.  He’s such a good boy and at least 3 of the people waiting to board the bus are in awe of him, so all is good for right now.  We’ve made it onto the right bus and even to a seat without any upsets…but will the driver really remember to let me know when we’re at my stop?!

Pamela Berman has had retinitis pigmentosa since childhood.  She is active in the blind and sighted community and loves children.  She has a supportive partner of 20 years, two great sons and works at Blind Service Association as coordinator of youth activities and scholarships. Pam’s essay comes from the writing workshop she attended at Second Sense: beyond vision loss.

Blind Traveler

19 Apr

by Stella De Genova

Sitting at my home computer in the Midwestern, American city that I was born and raised in, it feels a little surreal this morning to think about where I was for the last 12 days.  Nonetheless, the reality of it all is that I just got back from visiting family and touring London, England and to top it off, a 2-day jump over to Paris, France.  As a legally blind person, white cane in hand, along with my son who was my traveling companion and my brother who has lived in England for a few years, I’m just as amazed at the blurry, beautiful sights I saw as I am at how many “tubes” and trains and buses we maneuvered to get around.  A savvy traveler I am not and I would not suggest doing this alone to any other blind person but I feel some accomplishment about having been able to run through the streets and train stations of London and Paris.

We literally walked 10’s of thousands of steps and took in medieval castles and homes, art museums and cathedrals and must-see spots like the Tower Bridge, Big Ben and Westminster Abbey in London and its midlands; and the Eiffel Tower, Arc d’Triumph, Musee d’Orsay and Mont Martre in Paris.  We gazed upon the masterpieces of Michelangelo, Holbein, Bellini, van Eyck, Seurat, Cezanne and Van Gogh in the museums.

Sighted people go on vacations and make sure they see the sights and my family took me to all of the required tourist hot spots.  But with my failing eyesight, I’ve found that there is much more to the travel experience than what we see and that is to be savored as well.  It’s true that what I saw was far from crystal clear and many times what I saw was mostly through descriptions but I used my other senses to enjoy my trip.  My visual blurriness gave me the feeling of being part of an impressionist’s painting in Paris.  And I thoroughly enjoyed listening to British accents and the French language that I’ve loved since high school.  The feel of centuries-old cobblestone streets under my feet and the smells of the native cuisine along with the plethora of international flavors and languages feels like all of the senses having a party.  And it always awes me to be in buildings or places that hold infinite stories of told and untold history.  We don’t need our eyes at all to see the bustling ghosts of ancient times all around us.

I also appreciated that wherever we were, the understanding of the universal symbolism of the white cane was apparent and there was a general kindness and consideration communicated by all.  In a way, even though my blindness can make for its share of inconvenience in life, it can also bring comfort to find that most people in this world are inherently kind.  There may be a point in my future when I will not be able to see the photos taken on my trip but all of my senses will help me to hold treasured memories well beyond the sense of sight.

To learn more about Stella De Genova, click on the Statement tab on this blog site.