Elizabeth Iannaci
 Elizabeth Iannaci is a widely published, partially sighted Los Angeles-based poet. She holds an MFA in Poetry from Vermont College of Fine Arts, and remembers when there really were orange groves practically everywhere in the county. Her latest chapbook is The Virgin Turtle Light Show: Spring, 1968 from Latitude 34 Press.

All in the Timing
The symptoms of Retinitis Pigmentosa  (usually noticed in children, adolescents and young adults, with progression of the disease continuing throughout life) include loss of peripheral vision and night-blindness.

When I was a child I was seen
not heard,  like the moon
or a good servant. I was told to
watch my mouth; wondered
what it might do. l took to
carrying a little mirror.
I listened to my heart—heard
da-dum, da-dum, da-dum, da-dum—
it taught me perfect meter, began
my life-long fascination
with drummers. I tried to speak
only when spoken to, and only
in short, controlled bursts:
Yes, Mrs.  No, Sir.

When I was a child, I was all ears,
dogs spoke to me in a language
I knew. My grandmother’s Collie,
Prince, who slept in a barrel
turned on its side, told me: Go Away.
I ignored him. I still have the scar.

As a girl I was blind to meanness
and let anyone pull my leg. Later,
I wore my heart on my sleeve.
It was right at everyone’s elbow-
level. So tiresome, always
cleaning up the mess. In time
I began to cover my heart
with bulky sweaters.  Coats.

As a young woman, I discovered
falling in love is all in the timing:
Colin was married when I was blind-
sided by his electric green eyes—
20,000 volts. My IQ would drop
40 points whenever we were
in the same room. The same
city.  I’d become a fool: put on
my sweater backwards,  miss
the flight, lock my keys in the car.
Years later, seeing him, hearing
that voice,  again, electromagnetic
shock. This time I had a husband,
Colin was newly single. All in the timing

like selling a stock or telling a joke—
Two guys walk into a bar.
You’d think one of them
would have seen it.
For years love would descend
upon me, wrap itself  around me
like darkness, swallow me
whole. Once, it took me over
a decade to fight my way out
of its paper bag.

Now, as my vision contracts,
darkens at its edges, the world
around me becomes less
inviting, seems to have more
sharp edges, potholes,
sudden obstacles. Now, I listen
for unexpected skateboards,
joggers, baby strollers. Now,
when men ask me out to dinner,
a movie, offer to help me take off
my coat, I mostly decline. Mostly.
I’m chillier than I used to be.
A blind girl walks into a bar…

 2019 Elizabeth Iannaci
Elizabeth Iannaci was a Featured Poet at the November 2019 Second Sunday Poetry Series