Closing my eyes on a cliff path

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Pembrokeshire, UK

I’ve always been very short-sighted, wearing glasses since the age of 4. Hypermyopic eyes like mine are shaped more like a rugby ball than a football and the retinas are under strain, which can lead to problems like detached retinas (which I had at the age of 15 and then again at 53) and macular degeneration, which is common in people over 80 but I developed it at 46. I have an overwhelming gratitude for my sight, particularly when I’m in wild and beautiful places.

I came close to blindness

Three years ago
Ten years ago
Forty years ago
Three near misses -

So I often think
Where would I be
without sight?

What would I know
of this day, this path?

Heat bounces
from the rock.

My ears tell the tale
of waves breaking far below.

I hear how the combine-harvester
sweeps around the field, away and back,
the blessed absence of cars.

Stonechat and chough
tell me their names,
oyster-catcher,
curlew and kittiwake call.

The birds tell me of scrubland,
open cliff, or the washed-out
shallow pan of the estuary.

Bees fumble the sweet gorse
beneath the small flies’ higher whine.

Oh but what I would miss!

velvet brown butterflies
cinnabar moths flash red
thistledown floating in the hot air
kestrel hanging by a thread

gannet arrowing to the sea
a seal’s sleek head

And the cliff edge -
Fickle, fragile, lethal

I could never come here alone
If I could not see.

Would you bring me?
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LizNicholas

LizNicholas

Liz Nicholas lives in Sheffield and works with words and music. She writes fiction, non-fiction, poetry and songs. As a choir leader and music facilitator, she specialises in work with adults including those with learning difficulties and autism. She walk...

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