My Ocean as the Blind Man Sees It

Apr 17, 2020

Today’s poem is “My Ocean as the Blind Man Sees It” by Annaliese Jakimides.  Her poems and essays have been published in many journals, magazines, and anthologies, including the Beloit Poetry Journal, Utne Reader, and This I Believe II: More Personal Philosophies of Remarkable Men and Women. After 27 years on a dirt road in Mount Chase, population 193, she now lives in downtown Bangor.

She writes: “My life partner, who recently passed, was blind from birth. When we came to each other, later in life, I had never known a blind person, and so I found myself, a very visual person, attempting to process what it was for him to not see. Until, of course, I soon realized he saw more than most sighted people. This is the only poem I wrote about him when he was alive.”

My Ocean as the Blind Man Sees It
by Annaliese Jakimides

Instinctively he turns his face up into 
the thin, buttery light that lies on the back 
of the sea, along the horizon he has never seen. 
In his mind, there is no image against which 
to measure this absence, only a sea 
of nothingness: he can’t even call it   
black—he doesn’t know black or red or yellow, 
no pearl of sun on salt-watered ankles.

Horizons and edges, buttery light, the buoy bouncing 
on the lip of a mid-swell wave—or the wave,
for that matter—are all inaccessible 
to him. Well, not the wave, actually: each lick, 
every beat as it reshapes, refolds, reforms 
into another and another climbs inside 
his ear and tunnels into labyrinths the rest of us
can’t know, too distracted by the plovers and rosehips, 
the dusty crab shells in the sand, the fluorescent green kayak 
a quarter mile out. His hands play wind, his fingers rake 
new scores in the air. As he composes 
sheet after sheet, a transcription of sorts, 
his chest beats out breath one, breath two, breath three, 
exhaling the salt of Zanzibar and Honshu and Lubec he took
in only moments before, his intonation 
shaped by whale vibrations, porpoise speak, eider cry.

Poem copyright ©2019 Annaliese Jakimides.