Volume 26, Number 4


I have been curing no one of blindness
For ten years now. I have done no
Laying on of hands, no prayers, not even
Hot compresses to the eyes. Once,
All I needed to know was who required
My unique talent and I would go to them,
Spread a little salt on their kitchen tables,
Draw out bits of esoteric nonsense
Just for diversion, and then set
My healing free. Sight, I have
To admit, drove some into madness;
But I would say that for ninety-
Nine out of a hundred, to see
Proved the latch to a better life,
A joy in itself, a pleasantly perverse
Possession. At some point I began
To cure even near-sightedness,
Far-sightedness, astigmatism,
Failures in focus, cataracts.
I was electrically busy every day, and my ability
Seemed to have no thinking, logical end.

Soon, there was scant need for spectacles.
Optometrists and ophthalmologists slept
In their vacant offices. Lens grinders
Left the cities for farm work.
Diagnostic equipment makers had to lay off
Workers in the prime of their employment years.
The money that would have gone gladly
Into eye-care expense began to back up
In squalid bank accounts: hyper-liquidity
Arose to plague the markets. I was reminded
Money exists only in motion:
When there is less want, a reduced need,
And fewer things that simply have to be purchased—
Money grows lead-footed.
Our economy began to ceaselessly resolve itself.
Frame-makers went bust. I was admonished
That one man could not be selfish:
That every man had the best interests of all men to bear,
And, if a man could not choose to bear wisely,
Soon there would be law, and penalties.

I now have a government pension,
Live silently where I am only
An embellishment in a soft public memory.
My days are comfort; but still,
Now and again, when I see
Someone tapping with their proudly white cane,
I want to cure again. My fingertips
Lick the air for vision. But I know
There is no cure, only a change of disease.

—Ken Poyner