Following a recent interview I did for Optometry Today about my eye disease, keratoconus, I thought it would be appropriate to post this poem. The song version is available on the album I made with Willie Campbell (Kevin MacNeil & Willie Campbell are Visible from Space). The poem was first published in a book celebrating the quincentenary of the Royal College of Surgeons in Edinburgh.
For all the eye specialists I’ve seen – in varying degrees of haziness – over the years, and for the anonymous donor who gifted me his/her vision, in something like the way succeeding generations of writers do My vision’s been where I haven’t. I’m but a go-between. When my cornea frosted over, I saw an optician (blurred). A part of me has seen things I have never seen. My eye lost its glistering green, took on a foggy sheen Like that of a dreamish moonbeam, oceanly stirred. My vision’s been where I haven’t. I’m but a go-between. That whiteness eclipsed my eye when I was thirteen. Words on pages slurred; even girls turned smudgy, wayward. A part of me has seen things I have never seen. Keratoconus, intoned the specialists. The word seemed Vague as the world around me. Faces looked the same. Absurd. My vision’s been where I haven’t. I’m but a go-between. If the cornea’s a tiny jellyfish in the gene Pool blind fate stirs, then blind luck also occurs. A part of me has seen things I have never seen. The doctors grafted while I was drugged and dreamed - I still do - of the life-before-me my cornea’s conferred. My eye is like a mind’s eye. I’m but a go-between. A part of me has seen things I have never seen.