Friday, March 2, 2012

when I consider how my light is spent

In second grade, I read "Follow My Leader"—the all-American tale of a boy who loses his vision to a wayward firecracker. In a baseball diamond. On the Fourth of July. It's about resilience and apple pie, of course, but what I got out of it was a mortal fear of going blind.

In the story, the doctors remove the bandages from the boy's eyes and his world remains dark. "Take them off! Go on, take them off!" he says—something awful like that—and the hospital room goes hideously silent. Nearly 20 years later and I'm still right there among the clipboards, reeling on the bleached linoleum floor. I want to throw up when I think about it. Is that phobic? Probably. I manage to leave the house without welding goggles, but, God, it's a struggle.

Anyway, the other day as I walked to BART I saw (was privileged, fortunate, infinitely grateful to see) a woman and her guide dog trying to walk down Allston. The north-side sidewalk was blocked off with screen fencing on which someone had spray-painted, emphatically, "SO DRUNK!" From behind it came a cacophony of jackhammers and idling machinery and grunts. Everything reeked of tar and exhaust.

The building on the corner had its walls knocked out. The retriever started into the empty concrete expanse of the ground floor, then realized its mistake. One forefoot hovered as it reconsidered the options. It backed up, tongue lolling, and made for the gravel-strewn crosswalk.

Dog bless.


Arielle said...

I read that book too, I think. Isn't the dog named 'Leader'?

Pat The Iceman said...

He was originally named Sirius after Orion the hunters dog but Sirius followed behind Orion in the stars and Jumm's dog was going to lead him so he named him Leader! I have not touched that book in nearly 40 years but I remember it so clearly. Such a great story. Garfield takes from the accident, acceptance of his fate, learning Braille, how to be independent, use a cane, a guide dog.......I am sure Jimmy retired as an exceptional attorney by now!