an intimacy as close as between the sea and the strand

He taught me to understand vision as a liquid that laps. It crashes on the rocks of the visible, he said, and then it recedes back into itself.

His eyes worked that way: seeing itself was a kind of stuff, and he had trained himself to control it, to send it out into the world in waves that crested or snuck out low in quick flows. There were high tides and low – in the mornings and evenings he saw much less clearly than at midday, and we would sit together in museums or cafes on busy streets and nibble on muffins or bread while he described the clothing or skin or gestures or passersby as he caressed or broke over them with a glance. I wondered if they felt that intimacy – if they ever felt violated or undone – but they never seemed to. He looked at me like that, sometimes – I thought that I could sense the chill and wetness like a cat’s tongue rasping over my hair, like tiny jagged bits of seashell caught in a sandy ocean roll, scouring the shine out of my eyes and leaving the faintest of scratches on my cheeks. I think now that it was probably just my imagination. (…those scratches could have come from anywhere, I needed glasses well before I met him…)

My eyes never worked that way, and I tired of the constant reminders of the limits of my body, and he eventually tired of me. Soon after I left, he met another who saw as he did. He brought her to the ocean of vision and – unlike me – she learned quickly, and learned well. I heard that when they found him that afternoon, sitting in a park on a dry day with his eyes clouded over and his breath long gone, it was as if he had drowned.

[Return to “Reading Notes: The Intertwining – The Chiasm”]