The optician probed the photos
For the most extensive eternities lived
Then, with a distressed look to terrify a leopard,
The optician turned towards me and, with caution, said
Is there a history of lifeless eyes in your family?
My great-grandmother’s eyesight stopped living
That is why, thus the optician declared decided death
The optician thus declared my eyes’ demise that was coming.
I superfluously sought simplification
Your eyesight, I’m afraid to say, is on its deathbed
Kite, it has gone into its death throes, unfortunately
I contemplated the optician, to dispute putting eyesight on its deathbed
And to show he should know more about eyesight’s end
In the history of the eyesight that he had said lay dying
And, exquisitely executing a nod, the optician said
That I should tell more about that eyesight that stopped living.
Her eyesight might have died in an accident…
Kite I too have doubts, for they are too big, too big
But the sheer elegance of their symmetry is a joy to behold
I asked the seemingly spellbound optician what was too big
If it is a cataract covering your eyes’ lenses, Kite it is creepy
The optician thought, the optician looked at me, the optician said
Kite, I am referring you to an ophthalmologist
Looking at me thinking deeply, the old optician said.
The ophthalmologist performed eternal tests and eternal tests
Then sentenced me to one year of terrible torture
By condemning me to three hundred and sixty-six days of darkness
I went back weighed down with the sentence of terrible torture
The ophthalmologist tested eyes more painstakingly than previously
Then, giving me not a small sign of hope even, said that
He was sentencing me to a year of terrible torture as previously.
He condemned me to three hundred and sixty-six days of total darkness
Meanwhile I was steeling myself
For destined death of eyesight
That my great-grand mother had herself
Passed on to me — though unlike her
I did not have it right from the outset of life
My great-uncle Heron, my only relative in life
Who saw that august woman whose smile lit Hill Crest Hill
Confirmed my fear that in total darkness came to life
That in total darkness she lived it; and in total darkness left it
I regretted receiving her royal genes
And I ruminated one thousand and ninety-eight days
On my being one in four populous generations
To suffer my great-grandmother’s fate — to be so fated
But if I was the chosen one in four populous generations?
Oh how many a night! Oh how many a night!
Oh how many a night! Oh how many a night I devoted!
Just to savouring that sweet possibility!
That to that august woman was I by blood not related!
To make those potentially good tidings
I soared over seas and land to my homeland
To make that potentially good news that I was the elect
And as soon as the sun shut its eyes in my homeland
With the result that the land was clad in delightful darkness
I took a tin, a torch and a hoe in my hand
And crept to the site of the home
Of Kite great-grandfather — to the site of Kite’s home compound
Where as a child one wet sunny morning
When two white egrets were crossing the stream
To the elephant grass atop Hill Crest Hill opposite
I was driving the eight bulls pulling great-grandfather’s permanent plough
When great-uncle Heron ploughing his millet field, his hands on the handles
When great-uncle Heron said, Papa, steer the bulls off your grave! Not to plough!
Great-uncle Heron said, with his shaven long chin pointing
At a green grassland as large as a small compound
Said great-uncle Heron, Kite Papa, for they named me after Kite their father
Said Heron, making me feel like I was really his father, as I was turning the big bulls round
Kite Papa, said Heron pointing, your wife too lies there in your house beside you.
As I stood on my grave in that delightful darkness
I lamented not having been curious about the grave of my wife
In delightful darkness I asked where in that luxuriant grassland they buried me
In delightful darkness asked I where they might have interred my wife
Should I ask Heron to show me the exact spot her noble bones are?
But if Heron does not understand my predicament?
Might I not taint my burnished reputation, if he thought I had acquired arctic magic?
If he thought that I had come back in possession of global witchcraft?
No, I would not risk tarnishing my shinning reputation
I decided to excavate all bones from the savanna
I turned the torch on, getting a little slit in delightful darkness
And I struck the hoe into the ground and its futility struck me
And I recalled Gulliver saying something stealing seeds; statistics saying it was true
And reporting patricians periodically stealing seeds from plebeians
And DNA tests testifying that thirty per cent seeds were stolen
If a woman saw fit to steal seeds for patrician Kite from plebeians?
Nothing warranting DNA tests
I the elect or not was not worth excavating savannas to know
So soared I over the seas and lands back to await the eyesight tests. . .
On the one thousandth and ninety-eighth day
I drove to the hospital praying
That I was blessed with bizarre but beautiful retinas
I drove fast to the hospital praying
That her kingly blood was not flowing in my body
Despite Heron having proclaimed me her carbon copy
Despite no doubt about her blood being in my body.
On the one thousandth and ninety-eighth day
I drove to the hospital speaking to God about my retinas
Praying that I was not an unlucky seed theft
Praying that it created bizarre but beautiful retinas
And that I was not of patrician stock; that I was the elect
Mixed feelings had tight grip as I tramped to the ophthalmologist’s office
I was steeling myself for my great-grandmother’s fate transmitted to me
I was stoical standing in front of the ophthalmologist’s office.
I entered the ophthalmologist’s office praying that
I was a lucky theft of plebeian genes
That I the elect thirty per cent
That in me pure plebeian genes
The ophthalmologist started performing visual field testing
And I was praying that I indeed was of patrician stock
That the end of her eyesight was a birthing accident, would assert the testing
That it was a birthing accident — that I was not the elect thirty per cent. . .
And as never before tested the ophthalmologist my eyes
I was praying that I was not the stolen thirty per cent.
And the ophthalmologist pored over
New photos, old photos, new charts, old charts, new tests, old tests
And the ophthalmologist thought
Thought profoundly — in silence contemplating tests
His eureka moment came:
Your eyes the best of nature’s works of art
Never before seen such symmetry such beauty
Never before seen in nature or in art
Nature created your eyes a beauty to behold!
Your eyes a beauty to behold!
( Samuel Abonyo is a Kenyan-born Norwegian sociologist and statistician. I attended the University of Nairobi and the University of Bergen, I am a senior advisor at Statistics Norway. I am working on a collection of poems, Conceited Curiosities and book-length poem The Man Who Killed Death.)
The Beautiful Space-