by Anthony Schneider
I apologise for the length of this post, but this story is just so magical and special that I had to share it with you all.
A colored droplet in the retina that acts like a clever pair of
sunglasses, not blocking but amplifying light, adding visual spectra,
clarifying and delineating. A leaf, a brick, each a quivering mass, thousands
of wriggling colors. See spots run. As a young girl, she was rapt, quietly
thrilling with her own vision, her eyes dark and slick, like gems floating in
crude oil. She could discern the muscles of a bird in flight. Raindrops were
kaleidoscopic. That man's socks don't match. Little Avianne, pointing it out
only because she knew others couldn't see it, no matter how obvious, glaring
even, to her. And the man across the street, half a block away, walking
Avianne in the park, swinging on a swing. Motes of dust like snow, only
swirling, not falling. Light was alive. Her eyes contained multiple foveae.
Regions we don't possess. Her mother laughed. She's a godsend, that girl. Lost
an earring? Ask Avianne. Dropped a contact lens? Ask Avianne. She found five
wallets in parking lots. In a single year. And then stopped looking. The
presence of different carotenoids. The earth was a comedian of glitter--her
phrase--ants complex monsters.
A family holiday in Vermont. Her brother chewing gum and pulling her hair;
their mother saying stop that. When a buck stopped at the side of the road, she
said, Wait, he's going to move. And he did. She saw it in his eyes. She saw
Can we say there is beauty in all things? Or does abundance rob appreciation?
Soda water bubbles were magnificent. A flower or leaf, unflushed shit in the
toilet, all complex and wonderful. But a garden was chaos, a riot of color and
geometry and muck. Brick walls made her dizzy; subways you can imagine. A human
face became unbearable after a while: too many fissures, splotches, fleshy
divots, little hairs and discolorations--so unpristine. The world, it seemed,
was not well, was not of one mind.
She sat mesmerized before the rising sun. The light, she would say, her
lustrous eyes wide with wonder. A true tetrachromat, she saw millions of
colors. But couldn't share. Words were hopelessly inadequate. Nor could any
camera capture the world she saw. Can there be too many colors? No one else in
her aerie, although some of us tried to understand. Believing was seeing.
Short wavelengths in the violet region of the spectrum. At the symphony, she
couldn't bear the movement and distraction. A man near the front picking his
nails. Snot oozing from the right nostril of the second violinist, glimmering
under the lights. Better not to look, better only to listen. Sure enough, the
violinist stifled a sneeze during the adagio. A doctor explained: Our own
sensory experience provides little understanding.
Perpetually vanishing. She forgot immediately what she saw. Can humankind not
bear such clarity? Go, go, go, said the bird. Riding the subway: That man, she
said, eyes wide. What's that? But forgot what she had seen, and her face
crumpled, went soft with trying to remember.
Thick oil on canvas, swirls of color shining snugly atop gesso. Photography she
had little time for. Grain and fuzz, not enough dots per inch. Blur. Movies
were the same, TV almost indecipherable. Meanwhile, ambitious doctors wanted to
write articles. Her sight is. She has the most peculiar. Her family said no. We
don't reveal ourselves.
Does the extraordinary eventually become ordinary, plethora the norm? Most
lives, in the end, appear to be one kind of tragedy or another. She joked about
crow's feet, about flying the coop. What the ophthalmologists didn't know: what
happens when vision goes? Out of sight, out of mind. You don't see a pigeon
with glasses. Diminution would be blindness; and the blind bird dies.