Seeing

What I saw was all dead white. When I opened my eyes, the grey light hit what was there and I saw in shades I roughly numbered—guessing, too lazy to count: 256, 1024, a million. It was an effort to stop the scan of the closed scene, to check the flitting of vision over the contours of shadow, that compulsive tracking of the boundaries of tone and color, to arrest its sweep, to capture a circuit of vision and contain it in a scape defined by the paralysis of my head. A lock of the eyes is not possible, they buzz like flies in a box.

Thinking swells its place in the chain of perception, discerning layers of vision: what is soft and too close; what is hard and middle set; what is dissipated in the far away. The continuum of seeing is ruined.

The knuckles of my hand are sallow blurry ridges, an appearance that merges for sense with a certain pressure against my cheek and a coming numbness that spreads down my arm, a localization of sense that cuts between the knot of my bicep and the senseless rigor of the bone.

From the corner of my eye, an undulate band of fuzz descends to the horizon. The fur is resolved from a minute variegation, a narrow range of hues arranged in fine hairy patches. A slower wave of superimposed lights and darks gives the impression of this blanket's spongy stiffness.

A darker and courser stratum makes a patterned contrast under the velvet wave of the first. This layer too is made up of dual imposed textures: one a regular crosshatching with a checker of dark patches, the other, a haphazard but thorough enfolding at a differential frequency.

Under that, what I know are sheets: folds of soft cream and grey in waves and bunches. Expanses of gently gradient manila are interrupted by bows of ash and lead.

I stopped to look. A stare is an active state that stills the meat but agitates a remainder. There is a giving over of attention, a submission in time, a risk, a loss. Seeing is an effort. Seeing is a struggle. If that is the case, what is it that we do with our eyes as a matter of course?