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The Anxiety of Deliverance

December 20, 2011

A Poem by Mani G. Iyer

Editor's Note: Jennifer and Mark will be back after the holidays. Mani G. Iyer was born and raised in Bombay, India and has lived in the United States since 1985. He is deaf-blind due to Usher Syndrome. He became deaf by the age of 4, night-blind by the age of 12, and now has very little usable vision

A whole fifteen minutes left
what if he shows up early
has the time wrong
left already, after waiting 
the classical music wafting 
through the waiting room is sombre
let's get out.
Begin the descent 
Be careful
the stairs are not blind-friendly
use the right mobility techniques
remember the instructor's admonitions
damn it, overstepped the last one,
A sweet-scented voice's offer for help
humorously refused
blaming it on the instructor's ghost
these stairs have treacherous depths
easy, easy, you can't afford to fall
Ah, some light down below
wait, wait, the rails start one step late
stoop down to touch it
which bloody blind man designed these stairs?
The cane slips
rattles down in flight
hold your lifeline
one sure step at a time
is that sweet-scented lady anywhere near
ah, the bottom at last.

Get down on the knees
not in prayer of gratitude
grope for the cane
finally,the doors to freedom
wait inside
no, go outside
advertise your blindness
close to the door, though,
in case it rains.
The air is invigorating
where is he
he surely can't miss the cane and the dark glasses
what if he is expecting a wheelchair-bound pickup
make a decision, quick
The watch talks
five more minutes
sounds and voices everywhere
a car door slams
no one is approaching
smell more scents of women
snatches of conversations
boyfriends and vacations,
can't grab their attentions.
Finally, a man's attention
ask if he can see a white taxicab around
sorry, none in the vicinity
call the wife or friend,
warn them to get ready
wait for a few more minutes.

Check the time again
one minute late
action required
call the dispatcher
bypass the automaton
speak to a human
frustrating apologies and music
finally the dispatcher
a pronouncement
the driver is on time and is on his way
furtively scan with neck
A minute later,
a voice
"Sir, are you looking for the ride"
"Yes, yes"
a handle of an elbow magically appears
grab it
walk to the gaping car door
plonk into the passenger seat
He ignites the engine
"Was the wait too long?"
"Yes, but I enjoyed some fresh air"
"I am sorry you can't see, but 
it is a beautiful day".

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