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Alphabet, a poem about experiencing vision loss

By Sally Asmundson
Posted: 09/22/2020

I have moved to Altadena as of Sept 15 and have been rather busy with the move and getting settled. Having emails to write and things to read are helpful in getting me to pace myself and not unpack and organize until I am over exhausted.

I wrote the poem after the second surgery on my right eye, first to reattach a torn retina and second to try to save some of the retina after the development of a very fast growing epiretinal membrane or puckered macula.

The second surgery was 9 hours and I had to spend 24 hours a day on my stomach or with my head down for a month so that the gas bubble would hold the retina in place while it healed. All the while not knowing if I would have any vision in that eye. The first detachment was in February 1999 while I was working full time and also in the second year of a masters program.

I was able to complete the degree, a M.A in Mytholgical Studies at the Pacifica Graduate Institute. I was never able to return to work and was on disability until I reached retirement age in 2005. I continued to have visual hallucinations of flashing lights in both eyes for about three years and double vision for close to 10 years. Both reading and using the computer could only be done for about 15 minutes at a time.

I wore a black contact lens if I hiked or drove for most of that time. I am grateful that my vision is now stable and I haven’t  yet developed some of the issues which would decrease my vision further. I have learned to live with compromised vision and it does not limit me at this point. That’s the main reason that I haven’t participated in the VIP group.

-    Sally Asmundson –

Alphabet Poem
A     Apprehend with aplomb, apples, arches, aches even agony.
B     Basic billows, beautiful blue, now black with no
C     crackle of cacophonous crystal clarity.
D    Instead dark, not dank but deep with despair; or dwindling delight?
E    Euphonious elephant, eecking, elegant or elephantine
F    fracturous, fraught and frazzled;
G    gray, gargantuan, grungy with grime. Or grim
H     helpings of hellish heaven huddled under
I     the unseen iridescence of icicle illusions.
J     Jabberwocky of jewels jealously
K     kept klose even though not klear.
L    A lovely lens looms almost luscious
M    marred, marked and murky but not murdered yet.
N    No, nothing, not, nada, nondescript. Noble  
O    old oak outgrowth oppresses and also opens;
P    peeps, peering at precious, priceless, pupil with its
Q    quintessential quest for the quotidian quantity;
R    restless, resolute, resolved, red, roiled and rotated. Don’t ridicule the retina.
S    See, saw, seen, sight, soulful, surreptitious
T    Two, top, tallow, twist, and trouble
U    Up, but under, uxorious, undulate
V    Vac, vacuous, victorious, not vicious or viscous, but vital. Virtual vision not a version.
W    White, all color, no black none, white with whorls and whirls and whoops.
        The warrior
X    Xena, with xcellent, xcess
Y    Yellow macula, yells at me to be to see
Z    Zot and zap; I want to sea — to zee — to see

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