By Juliette Sebock
Anyone with glasses knows what it’s like to put on a pair for the first time and suddenly see the veins in leaves in ancient oak trees and names scrawled on Dewey decimal cards on the side of a bookshelf across the room. And, when you’re lucky enough to get them replaced, you get that euphoria again, a whole new world taking flight in your eyes.
I loved that feeling when I felt it first, but no one told me it wouldn’t be the only time, or the first time, worst time, that I learnt to see because when my brains says, “It’s time,” there goes an eye. Each time is a strike, paralysed, the pain of panic worse than the sensation of a knife, with every motion, every twinge of emotion, sliding into my eye socket.
I don’t need to see, I say, while each time I fantasise that this time might be the last time, open my eyes and there’s more than a blur in my line of sight. And I know it’s nonsensical to think that far, let the daydream worry into my anxious reality. But when it happens, I’m once again paranoid at the film passing over my eyes.
I tell myself it’s unlikely that the next time I squeeze shut my eyes, hoping that my head will explode, Pompeii of pressure and nerve pains, the darkness inside as the magma cools, my eyes won’t somehow regain their sight.
But it’s hard not to play paranoid when the pressure implodes, stays inside despite the pills, the molten thoughts turned to fog every time I breathe. Pliny wonders if he’ll survive to poeticise Vesuvius. And I wonder what it is I’d be leaving behind, like the largest E at the top of the eye chart that tells me it’s time, again, to lift the veil and see.
Loving as a Three-Course Meal
By Juliette Sebock
Loving you is sort of like
cooking a three-course meal:
my response to both
a wave of endorphins
and a sort of
If I cut open an avocado,
thwack the knife into the pit
and slice through the flesh,
careful not to cut myself
though its skin,
there's a rhythmic sort of repetition
like brushing up against you,
skin on skin,
when I should be praying
that you don't drive your own knife
deep between my ribs.
It's like waiting for the water to boil,
salting the conversation
with rapid-fire follow-up texts
to try to speed up the bubbles,
ellipses that say you're there,
awaiting a packet of pasta
It's like opening up my spice cabinet
and never remembering where I put the cumin,
not remembering which spices and details
I've brought up in earlier discussions,
not wanting to overseason
with too much traumatic memory too soon,
thyme spent in silence processing
what I've imagined
versus what's happened.
Loving you is like
sticking a toothpick into a perfect cake,
phallic seduction notwithstanding.
I'm afraid to break the surface,
press too hard, leave a gaping hole
where perfection should be.
But with you,
the toothpick comes out clean.
Long Time No See
By Juliette Sebock
How many people can combine
metal and an old Sinatra song
and make you love them even more?
Make it melodic in a scandal?
Break over, the breakdown,
the taboo of running fingers through
conscience only for the other:
"Don't do anything I would do."
Juliette Sebock is the author of Mistakes Were Made and Micro and has work forthcoming or appearing in a wide variety of publications. She is the founding editor of Nightingale & Sparrow, runs a lifestyle blog, For the Sake of Good Taste, and is a regular contributor with Marías at Sampaguitas and Royal Rose. Currently, she is curating the Screaming from the Silence anthology and working on a variety of personal and freelance projects. When she isn't writing (and sometimes when she is), she can be found with a cup of coffee and her cat, Fitz. Juliette can be reached on her website or across social media @juliettesebock.