Bad eyes run in the family like tears –
your grandfather was seen off
to the workhouse when he went blind.
It’s just what happened, you told me,
in those days, to our kind.
I’ve seen the pictures of you
in your big pink NHS specs
when you were nothing more than a dot –
your poor bad eyes: your lot.
Too glam for specs at forty,
you’d try to do without:
‘Is there anyone on the crossing?’
you’d ask your passenger (usually me) and
even as a kid, I’d think, ‘Christ –
you mean you’re driving a car and you can’t even see?’
‘Anyway,’ I’d say, ‘don’t ask me – bad eyes
run in the family.’
I’ve never known your bad eyes stop you
following 8 Bingo cards in a row –
always the apple of Kelly’s eye
you win more often than you lose,
At sixty they told you to get ready:
you were going to lose your sight –
sometimes you say you think you still might.
What we could never have forseen
is that nearing seventy, you’d be called to pick up, for the first time in your life, a paintbrush
and the colours of yourself would flow
like numbers marked off on a winning row – and our prize?
It’s to see what you see when you look at the world
through those beautiful bad blue eyes.