Stories From the Edge of Blindness

In 2002, Retinitis Pigmentosa changed my life. This is my story of a slow approach to darkness.


April 2020

Between Chaos and Silence

Jane Cornwell is an extraordinary painter who has been inspiring me and a group of writers, selected by Paul Brookes to participate in his National Poetry Month Ekphrastic Challenge. As we head into our final week, I am filled with admiration for Jane and all of the writers who have taught me so much over these weeks in isolation. My huge thanks go out to Paul, Jane, Ali, Samantha, Jay, Dai, and our newest participant Megha.

Please check out todays post where you can read, and listen to, all of the beautiful poems inspired by this image.

At the end of the month, I will be posting my favorite poems from each writer and my favorite painting with all the poems written in response that painting. Thank you for taking the time to read and listen. I hope that all who are reading this are safe and well and home.

My annual National Poetry Month ekphrastic challenge has become a collaboration between Jane Cornwell (artist), and poets Susan Richardson, Samantha, Jay Gandhi, Ali Jones and myself. April 22nd

Such lovely art today!!!

The Wombwell Rainbow

22 Twitter sizeSail Away

Sundown sails twirl,
at ballerina’s bow
the day dance ends.
Wake nudge turn home,
evening shadow calls.

Twilight shroud, sun
slides mouse quiet,
into dusk’s dim bowl.
A little death…it slows.

Under manta’s shadow,
thoughts leave the isles
and cold water corals.
Even solitude must end.

And coarse hands yearn
for warm water, soap
and a fish supper.
Sailor songs by the fire.

– © Dai Fry 21st March 2020.


I got your message.
It wasn’t tucked in a bottle, sealed
In the traditional way with cork and wax,
Set to sea
On the off chance of
Someday being found.

It was somehow more direct,
And yet, more subtle, written
In the sunshine
On the vast waters
Of your soul.

It’s frustrating, at first,
When information’s not delivered
Where and how we’ve sought so long.
Sometimes though, it’s more important
To receive what’s freely given

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My annual National Poetry Month ekphrastic challenge has become a collaboration between Jane Cornwell (artist), and poets Susan Richardson, Samantha, Jay Gandhi, Dai Fry, Ali Jones and myself. April 21st

Another beautiful painting and a diverse collection of poems for day twenty – one.

The Wombwell Rainbow

21 twitter sizeFaux Castle

Look at my glazed ruin
glass light, dry storm.
Rainbow’s home.

Anger sustains
though element gouged,
flag-wind, see my pride.

Faux castle, your ravens fly.
Plague’s sustenance,
last in the line.
Prepared for legend’s time.

Bone brittle, I crumble
brick powder, wormed wood.
Held in charms of
viral salts, corrosive winds.

My house is a closed mind
beyond the mildew line,
but at last it slowly opens
to lick and lash of stormy seas.

-Dai Fry

The Ruin

is a mask as you can see daylight
through the holes for your eyes,

Put the ruin on your face
when out in public
to avoid other folk being infected.

The ruin is reusable as it is washable
and there is plenty of room
for ventilation. Some ruins

are grander than others. Disposable
ruins pollute the oceans of good sense.

Use your ruin with due care and attention
to the needs of visitors. Don’t let them

get too close or you will lose your heritage.
Your voice may be muffled.

Paul Brookes


Queen Anne’s Lace
And black crows frame
My mental imagery,
Succumbing to the Rule of Thirds.
Until, there’s only room to run off the page.
But white cobwebs will remain


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My annual National Poetry Month ekphrastic challenge has become a collaboration between Jane Cornwell (artist), and poets Susan Richardson, Samantha, Jay Gandhi, Ali Jones and myself. April 20th

Day Twenty brings beautiful art!

The Wombwell Rainbow


If we could go back, would you come too?
Here, let me take your hand and let’s slip
out of the car. It is probably a Ford Cortina,
or something similar, never a Ghia though.

Do you have your anorak? Yes, even though
It is summer, you will need it, if you want to follow.
And what about those shoes, are they grippy enough
to let you travel over the stream like a wee sprite
Bounding from rock to rock? Come. Isn’t it amazing?

How things are done here? No joins are needed
Because the whole is much stronger than the parts,
balanced in equilibrium, the story travels on past
that solitary elder, that must be bird strewn.
Trees don’t really grow here, and now I come to think

It is odd to try to claim any part of the earth as our own.
I always like the architecture…

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Wombwell Rainbow Interviews: River Dixon

He may not approve, but I admire the hell out of this man! I am thrilled to share this interview with River Dixon!!!

The Wombwell Rainbow

Wombwell Rainbow Interviews

I am honoured and privileged that the following writers local, national and international have agreed to be interviewed by me. I gave the writers two options: an emailed list of questions or a more fluid interview via messenger.
The usual ground is covered about motivation, daily routines and work ethic, but some surprises too. Some of these poets you may know, others may be new to you. I hope you enjoy the experience as much as I do.

River Dixon

River Dixon

has unknowingly found himself trapped in the incessant heat and beauty of Arizona. It is here, along with his family, that he finds solace stringing together words in an attempt to find a structure or sequence that may one day make sense of all this.


Twitter @Potters_Grove


1. When and why did you start writing poetry?

It’s difficult to say when, exactly. Growing…

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My annual National Poetry Month ekphrastic challenge has become a collaboration between Jane Cornwell (artist), and poets Susan Richardson, Samantha Terrell, Jay Gandhi, Dai Fry, Ali Jones and myself. April 19th (Now with audio!)

I can’t believe the month and the challenge are almost two thirds done. I did not have high hopes of making it this far, but am thrilled I have. Thank you to Jane, Paul, Ali, Samantha, Jay, and Dai!

The Wombwell Rainbow

3The Secret Keepers

You would not believe
the things we have seen,
done here under a moon’s
full bone-white eye.

The man who wanted to win
came and looked at the stars
and measured our bodies
with his cold blue gaze.

We moved, a millimetre here,
a fraction there, so he never
quite got it right. We knew
his intentions weren’t exactly

as honourable as he told us
they were. There is no fooling us,
we who have stood here so long
that we have forgotten what we are for.

It doesn’t matter though, we shift and pitch
and always find a new role to play.
Sometimes we hold space for promises
and goodbyes, though we prefer other things.

It is true that we can’t be counted
at least not in human ways. We like
to tease and trick, because what else
are stones supposed to do with everything?


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Missing the Dead

I am absolutely thrilled that my first acceptance from a journal this year came from Nine Muses Poetry, a journal that has published so many of the contemporary writers I admire. My huge thanks to editor Annest Gwilym for including my poem as part of this month’s Special Challenge. If you would like to read it, you can so so here.

My annual National Poetry Month ekphrastic challenge has become a collaboration between Jane Cornwell (artist), and poets Susan Richardson, Samantha, Jay Gandhi, Ali Jones and myself. April 18th. Now with audio!

Eighteen Days! Now with Audio!!!!! Gorgeous art today from Jane, Ali, Paul, Jay and Samantha!!!!!

The Wombwell Rainbow

4Shape Shifters

Carve wind, carve rain,
Come storm, begin again.
Come winter, come spring,
Come goddess from within.
Come fire in the head,
Come worshipping the dead.
Come footprint and beast,
Come battle and feast.
Come blood and ride,
Come pipe call and red tide.
Come quiet, come calm,
Come atmosphere to disarm.
Come spirit and ghost,
Come frightening the most.
Come secret and be
Come to all that I see.
Come mountain and mother,
Come stand like no other.

-Ali Jones

The Blue Hawk

Stream and hill follow my contours.
This beak is a high jut of rock.
I command the veer of rivers.

My black wing tips
are the storm’s edges.
My gyre makes the gust.
My white feathers, clouds.

Rain is the pelt of water
off my pinions and claws.
One of my eyes is the sun.
The other eye is the moon.

Gravity is my fall.

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Zelda, Persephone and Maud

When I started writing my blog, it was going to be a story solely about blindness, but as the years have progressed, I have discovered that the story of my blindness is the part that weaves itself into the whole, but isn’t the only thread that gives meaning. With this realization my blog has become about a life with blindness, rather than a life of blindness. Blindness makes my life more challenging, but it isn’t all of me; it often decides my fate, but it doesn’t define me.  It leads me to places I never imagined and to the rediscovery of places I had thought forever lost.  Blindness has brought friendships and community into my life in such fulfilling and sustaining ways, and it has allowed me to work through things I believed insurmountable.  But there is one battle I just can’t seem to win, the battle of Zelda. 

If you are acquainted with my blog, then you may remember Zelda, the thorn in my eye who I tried to see as a savior, but let’s just say it was a struggle to get clarity, and continues to be a struggle.  For those of you who don’t know or remember her, Zelda is my white cane.  I wrote a whole series of posts about my early days with Zelda during my O&M lessons, if you are interested in reading a bit about her background.  

So, forward almost three years, and the truth is that Zelda has rarely seen the light of day.  It’s sad really, given that she was supposed to bring some light into my hands and help guide my way over the precarious streets in this city of questionable angels, but I just can’t make peace with her, no matter how many times I trip or fall, no matter how clear it is that I need her.  

I stashed her at the bottom of a bag, which I put in another bag, which I put at the back of a high shelf in my closet,  in an attempt to forget about her, but the bruises seem to fade much more slowly as I get older, sitting on my skin as a reminder that I am not safe. My husband will periodically mention Zelda, ask where she is and if I might try her out again.  I know he worries about me.  I tell him I don’t want to be the blind wife.  I don’t want him to feel ashamed or embarrassed.  I tell him I wish I could be less broken, feel more like a partner and less like a burden.  

I do recognize that I need Zelda, so I started to think about what it is that bothers me about her.  The reasons are many and complicated, but one tangible thing is that I find her to be way too tall.  So, I decided to try out some shorter canes.  I am just over five feet tall, and although my O&M teacher was a fan of a taller cane, I never felt comfortable with Zelda’s height.  So, enter into the picture, Persephone of medium height, and Maud who is short and round, just like me.  I don’t know if the shorter canes will help me feel more comfortable, but I do know that I have to try something.  The thing is, the virus took over just when they arrived, and now we are all at home together for the foreseeable future. When the stay at home order is lifted, I just might go outside and give them a whirl.  

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