The consultant in the ED is testing Mary’s peripheral vision.
‘Keep focused on my nose,’ he says. ‘I want you to say when you can see my fingers out of the corner of your eye. Okay?’
He reaches out, rests the flat of one hand across her right eye and then begins waggling the first two fingers of his free hand out to the side.
‘No, no!’ he says, when she moves her eyes to look. ‘Stay on the nose! Okay? Can you see my fingers now? And now? How about now? Mary?’
I sleep six hours and come downstairs from a dream about lightning.
I makes some coffee and sit down to write. But it’s frustrating. Nothing makes any sense.
Of course, it could simply be a lack of sleep. Exhaustion’s like dye. It makes me transparent, incompetent, threading through all those forms and spaces I thought were solid.
Like Mary, I’m finding it hard to focus.
As an exercise, in lieu of anything else, I shut my eyes, rest my fingers on the keys and simply type out anything that comes to mind from last night.
The red roses of the bride’s bouquet in the colourised photo on the sideboard.
The puff of air against my hand from the trachy in the baby’s throat.
The shine of Happy 16th! on the foil banners tacked across the archway.
The bitten nails of the hand draped over the cab windowsill.
The glass crucifix surrounded by cards in the prayer garden.
Leadbelly howling on the radio.
The man shaking his head as he passes along the street.
I had the beef, he had the chicken.
The shape of the woman’s mouth as she pushes a crisp in sideways.
It just goes to show – hard work never killed no-one.
A squall of black rain blowing in through the open door.
Two moons. Blinking hard. One moon.
Like Mary, I want to turn and look full-on, but for reasons beyond my control, all I’m allowed to do is stay pointing forward, saying when something moves, writing it down.
‘Fine. That’s fine Mary.’
The consultant turns to the nurse.‘Not for thrombolysis. We’ll still put a call out, though...’