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Aphantasia (Atlanta Review; Spring/Summer 2018)

Rob Jackson
Atlanta Review
Journal Volume/Pages: 
Spring/Summer 2018


The clue came in a game of Pictionary.
She drew a card and sketched a perfect horse,
lined like Picasso. I asked her, “How did you do that?”
She looked at me askance.
“I picture a horse in my mind
and I draw it.”

You are with me
at the racetrack, air rich with whinnying.
Just beyond eye’s edge, the sun sparks
moist chestnut on a horse’s flank.
I know this to be true, but wherever I turn,
the horse fades.

Stare at a dim star and it vanishes.
Look away, and you glimpse it,
like the ghosts of loved ones.
The rods of your eye circle your retina’s rim,
sensing light and dark in peripheral vision.
Pegasus circles, too, just below the horizon,
his wingtips slicing the surface as distant sails.

Closing my eyes is darkness.
I cannot see my father without a photo,
and photos are all that remain.

Once, I had my briefcase stolen in the train station
after sightseeing England and Wales.
Pictures disappeared with my computer
and thumb-drive, pinched, as back-up.
Memory is stripped of the bluebells of Swansea,
tips curled demurely to the ground,
and the greens of a Gloucester field,
raindrops dribbling down grass blades.

Blindness is terrifying.
Could I learn to see in my mind
what I cannot see in mind’s eye now?
Deafness is less unnerving.
I can hear thousands of songs
by opening imaginary drawers
to find a snippet, just a few notes,
or the starting line of a track.

A few times a year, I dream
in shocking clarity. Once was a bridle,
its leather twined like a river,
coursing over my father’s work glove.

The boutonnière at my wedding
was a single white rose,
a knight mounted on baby’s breath.
I know this only from the photo.