As children, we learn everything from our parents or prime caregivers. As a blind mother of a sighted child, my mom had to teach me to do things as a sighted person, and not as she did as a blind person. It took me some time to comprehend what my mom was telling me and to understand what she was trying to teach me. This poem contains my first memories of my mom trying to explain to me that she could not see and that I could see. After quite a bit of observing, and noting differences between my mom and other people in my small world, I finally figured it out.
I wrote this poem several years ago and had it transcribed to Braille for my mom for her 80th birthday.
One time, when I was not yet four,
A spool of thread slipped to the floor.
"Can you help me," my mommy asked.
And I came right over for the task.
I moved my hands feeling all around,
And my hands they made a rustling sound.
Mommy moved her hands the same,
And I enjoyed this little game.
Until Mommy pulled me from my knees,
And gave my hands a tiny squeeze.
"No, no," she told me patiently,
"it's ME who finds things differently.
you can use your eyes to see."
"Mommy sees things with her hands."
She asks me if I understand.
Though I agree, and say, "I do"
My answer is not really true.
Her words run circles in my head,
Becoming dizzy rhymes instead
Not bringing any clear meaning;
"You must depend on what you're 'seeing'."
I watch her as she cooks and cleans,
And I see she does things differently
Than other mommies, or even me.
She reads to me before my nap,
From a book so big it hides her lap.
As her hands move swiftly across the page
She tells me of a wise old sage.
I move my fingers across my book,
But find I need my eyes to look.
With my hands, I cannot read.
Reading we do differently,
For words, I need my eyes to see.
One morning at breakfast, I putter and play
With cereal that tends to remind me of hay.
And I listen to Mommy talk on the phone
To her friend Sally, or maybe it's Joan.
"What happened in the end of that TV show?
There wasn't much talking, I didn't know
how it ended," Mommy explains.
"When there's only music and no talking remains,
the actions on screen are a mystery to me.
And I need you to tell me as one who can see."
Her hands can't help her to see the TV.
This she must do very differently.
She has to ask her friends who can SEE.
The idea pops in my head so bright
It sends a shower of falling light.
Then as quietly and quickly as I am able,
I push myself away from the table.
Though sneaking on Mommy I know is bad,
To the living room in bare feet I pad.
In front of the TV I kneel down
And turn the knobs until there is only sound.
Across the room, I sit in a chair,
And listen to voices and noises on air
That match the sights that make up a scene,
I try to imagine the view on the screen.
Now the reason is clear and I understand
Why Mommy tells me she 'sees with her hands'.
The words she has said all make sense to me,
And the reasons she does some things differently.
She sees through touch, what her eyes cannot see.