Ode to My Right Eye – Teresa Milbrodt

The fifth time I’ve tried to write

an ode to your blue wandering

that sends me to the ophthalmologist

once a year, that made me learn to love

glasses, shields to keep your blinking

blueness safe, for you could not see

the stick or stone aimed at your iris,

you would not know to shut. 

I make allowances crossing streets,

check both ways twice, three times,

you have made me learn the art

of awareness, listening for the hum

of motors, the click of traffic lights. 

You only ruined one college date,

a boy who said You didn’t tell me

you had a lazy eye, like this was cardinal sin,

and I should’ve listed every physical flaw,

birthmark, and assorted habit. I could

have replied You didn’t tell me about 

the mole on your left arm, but I was silent.

We never went out again, so you saved me

from one of the world’s assholes. We take care

of each other, careful not to bump people

lost in your emptiness. Most don’t notice

you until I bring it up, your path like a child

who can’t stay put. A mind of your own, blue, 

you’re a reminder of where I’ve been,

how things don’t always work as expected

but we make do, adapt, adjust, appreciate

the bud for its tight beauty.

Author Description: This poem is a response to folks who have asked me whether I would have surgery to restore the sight in my blind eye if I could. Being blind in one eye has shaped who I am and how I see the world (figuratively and literally), and that’s not something I would change.

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Bio: Teresa Milbrodt is the author of three short story collections: Instances of Head-Switching, Bearded Women: Stories, and Work Opportunities. She has also published a novel, The Patron Saint of Unattractive People, and a flash fiction collection, Larissa Takes Flight: Stories. Her fiction, creative nonfiction, and poetry have appeared in numerous literary magazines.