Sunday, March 6, 2011

My Bubbles

It occurs to me that "bubble" is an onomatopoetic word, loosely describing the coming into being of a blown sphere (make the sound "bub" to yourself slowly and you'll see what I mean) and then the popping of said globe. "Ble" happens much faster than "bub," and thus suggests the sudden disappearance of the coming-into-being that first syllable has mimicked. Maybe.

I am certain, though, that "bubble" is a mildly comic word, of little gravity, and that it suggests occasions of pleasure (champagne, soap bubbles, parties, play). Whitman makes "bubble" awful in "As I Ebb'd with the Ocean of Life," and certainly the stock and real estate markets don't use the word lightly. Still, both sound and connotation make the word seem inadequate, for me, for the two spheres of gas that have occupied space in my right eye since early December. The first one was pale blue, wide at first, shivery, and its transparency and color made me think of a contact lens. That one diminished in size until Christmas, when it slipped through a tear in my retina and lodged there for a bit. It looked as if a bluish sun were descending behind the horizon, and had just a third or so of the way still to go... except that this setting sun simply lodged itself in the center of my right eye, and stayed there. Though every now and then the disc would move some more, and take a little more retina with it.

Bubble number two has been with me since early January. At first I couldn't see anything, and then when I could make out light again I seemed to be looking a viscous gray field, translucent and rippling. If I moved much it made me feel disoriented and a little sick. This bubble was of a sturdier stuff than the first, so it took until early February for it to become a circle that almost filled my field of vision, and now in early March it's become surprisingly pleasing: it's the size of a perfectly round pea, near the bottom of the right-hand side of the world. It is dark at the rim, a Rothko-ish black-purple, and and then it pales to a light sky color and then in the center is a blotch of a darker gray roughly the shape of Australia. Somehow this conspires to make it look three dimensional, as if beautiful and oddly colored pearl is floating near the base of everything. It has, today, a tiny satellite. Yesterday there were three.

The two bubbles have given me a cataract (unavoidable side effect) so that may be contributing to the pearly aspect of the little sphere. Two oddities: at night, light bounces off the bubble into the upper reaches of my eye, so that I can see up high the double of a candle flame, a dashboard, a computer screen. And, if I tilt my head down and look at the floor, the bubble turns a magenta red, as if I'm looking at it through the screen of my own blood.

I realize that all this is probably more interesting to me than to anyone else; don't we find fascination in the very close examination of our own transformations? There's a more-or-less unavoidable self-absorption entailed in being sick. What else would you be paying attention to? But i realized this morning that the bubble has become an odd sort of companion. It's like the way, when you're working on a computer, there's always a little sidebar somewhere, something is monitoring some function or other. Perception isn't like that, but for the past few months it has been; I've had something to refer to, to notice what was happening inside my sight.


Kathleen said...

Thanks for letting us know what's going on with your eyes, your pearly vision.

Risa Denenberg said...

Following your plight with interest and concern, hoping for the best. Regarding self-consciousness in illness, I love this:

Illness is a part of every human being's experience. It enhances our perceptions and reduces self-conscousness. It is the great confessional: things are said, truths are blurted out which health conceals.

On Being Ill, Virginia Woolfe, 1930

Glenn Ingersoll said...

Concentration on a particular often will continue to reveal.

Steve Fellner said...

I think these posts are fascinating. I'll buy the book, seriously.

julia said...

yea, the great confessional!


will you be returning to UMASS classes I would love to work with you.


Mim said...

The act of describing--especially fine description such as yours--is, I believe, a kind of redemption or, at least, an antidote to self pity. You search for the right language and find it!

A.H. said...

This is beautifully nuanced. I hope that you continue to feel better and more secure after such a traumatic time.

beebe said...

Funny you should write about bubbles. Yesterday I was revising my poem "Soap Bubble Testing" I used the word shimmer and irridescent and alluded to you in "a class I must teach." It was fun to revise! It came back around to the beginning. a circle. Maybe I can make it better. (mind is making connections.) Thanks, B