Poetry by Maureen Wilkinson

Pity the Dumb

This poem was published in Poetry Review and is included in my collection THE BLINDMAN GOES FROM A TO B published by Peterloo Poets. A signed copy may be PURCHASED HERE...


We didn't talk about him going blind.
Our Mother said it wasn't nice to question
just what he couldn't see, what else it changed.
Our Mother said we shouldn't tell our friends,
or teachers, since we didn't want their pity.
At school we were as diligent and silent
as girls were meant to be.  In private I
walked round with my eyes shut, to learn the facts.
At weekends he and I worked in the garden.
It was his larger cage.  I mapped out space
with grids of sticks and string, and helped him pace
the scope of it.  I fetched him picks and spades
to break the darkness, was his flat earth judge.
I drew him furrows.  He spilled shining beans
into my hands.  I kept
the burden of their beauty to myself,
and buried them precisely, line by line.
And at each summer's end we harvested.
I set his fork eight inches from each green
potato clump.  He always kept
a silent stand, his eyes fixed on the sky
while I sieved earth, gather the fruits of light.
Our Mother said that many were worse off.
We had our food, a roof.  Our mute restraint
became the straight and narrow she called fate.
She hung God's comforts up on china plates.
We kept our visions under house arrest.
Our lives grew coiled inwards, like a shell.
I learnt the landscape of his bell-jar dark.
Learnt how the shut self shrinks, until its voice
is no more than a stone dropped in a shaft
of water, with the thin
concentric circles spreading in a grief,
of echoes you can't catch and cannot touch.
Till all the dreamed of selves edge out of sight.

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