Optical Express

William Stephenson is a Reader in English Literature.

It’s queasily intimate.  Sweat-drops

glisten on his hair, as he breathes stale

garlic into your ear.  You could kiss his temple,

he’s that near.  He shines a torch into your pupil

and a squiggle floats across him like a bacillus

on a slide; dust from your lash, magnified. 


So let’s check your pressure.  He raises a wand,

thumbs a lever.  Air brushes your cornea;

a toddler’s blown kiss, an insect’s blunder. 

All normal for your age.  No sign of glaucoma.

He slides a fresh lens in.  Top line. 

The letters crispen; O, M, G, N. 


Fine.  Now pop this to Reception. 

You fumble out, studying your chit: 

an oracle’s prediction.  You’ve paid tribute

to the God of Sight, and He has spoken:

Headaches?  Dancing lights?  How visions begin.

So blink; balance on a breath; part the curtain.