The Blind

Brian McCabe

The blind old men who come arm in arm
on good-smelling days to the park,
grateful to the girl who brings them
since they seldom have the chance
of a slow, recollective game of bowls.
The sun that signs their faces
with smudge-like marks where the eyes were
suggests to their memories a notion
of green, and summer days ago.
Taking pleasure from the silence of grass
and the weight of the wood in the hand,
they engross themselves in the game
they play by sound intuition:
The girl is young, sighted.
She stands at the fat end of darkness
and claps her hands — once, twice —
and then the first bowler stoops,
as if about to kneel and be blessed,
then throws to her clapping hands.
As the dark wood is travelling the green
she waits, motionless, and waits
as if by any slight move she might alter
the swing and slowing of the bowl.
When it halts, she bows, she measures,
then calls its distance, its 'time':
'Seven feet at four o' clock.'
Again she claps her hands.
Another player stoops, lets go...
This time it comes closer, close enough
to enter the young girl's shadow.
When it kisses the jack, there's a 'cloc'.

The old men smile.

From One Atom to Another (Polygon, 1987)