I had a grain of sand caught in my eye. For days it nestled between cornea and eyelid, a microscopic foreigner buried in its viscous confines. For days my eye was as irritated as an oyster that feels the initial birth pangs of its pearl, the hoodlum particle invading its soft flesh.

The pain increased, spreading beyond my eyelashes, pooling in the corner like a red shadow – all of the physiological consequences of a battle with an unwanted object. My eye felt as rough and dry as the hide of a mollusk. I waited for it to glaze over with nacre, for the hazel-colored iris to turn iridescent: opaque with lavender and turquoise. I waited for my vision to be awash with the ocean, its incandescent light challenging the reflections and refractions of my new eye.

The act of blinking became difficult – as if the stubborn child was grating against the ceiling of the lid: a crib too small for its subtle growth. Every time the grating pain returned, I wondered at the strata of translucence that layered my infant gem. The pain wasn’t curved, but jagged: perhaps my pearl wasn’t round; but malformed, Baroque. Such stones were rare, impossible to match: they were not used for necklaces, to be threaded with a string of equals. They were singular, their bodies used in brooches: as the hull of a ship; the torso of a god. My pearl was going to be unique.

But one day my eye began to water. And in the belly of one of those tears the infant grain escaped. It traveled a smuggler’s way down the cartography of wrinkle and jaw. The saline tracks curled down my face like the footstep of a snail. Then, in a fit of forgetfulness and annoyance, I brushed the tear away

No matter. I would have been a terrible mother.


7 responses to “Mother-Of-Pearl

  1. Oh aubrey! I hope you feel better now. There are few things more painful than a hard, gritty object in one’s eye. I used to wear contact lenses, and just getting an eyelash stuck between lens and cornea would make me literally weep until the offending lens and lash fell out. Later my eye doctor suggested keeping eye wash with an eye cup (really, google the latter for a picture!) so I could rinse foreign objects out. It’s very effective, though I wish the human eye evolved so that we had better protection against itty bitty threats like grains of sand.

  2. (stands and applauds at the marvelous piece)

  3. I hope you are fully recovered but it is wonderful how you make a something so uncomfortable so poetic!

  4. Given my occupation, the presence of grains of sand(ing dust) in my eye are more frequent occurences than I like. The next time it happens, i’ll remember this, and take a longer and more accepting view of one of the most painful experiences there is. Thank goodness for tears: both human and nicely bottled at the pharmacist.

  5. Such poetry about such a painful incident!

  6. perfection of a writing

  7. what an utterly lovely piece!

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