A Dusting


As a kid, I was fascinated by glasses, or, rather, with the multiple ways of looking with the same pair of eyes. I could not see how the neighborhood chestnut tree could shake its barky definition, how, without corrected vision, the husks of its nuts disappeared into the greens and browns of leaves and branches. The bugs and the worms and the hulls of seedpods were right there. Oh, I’d tried on my friend’s glasses, but they were a thing, not the blue-green-brown-hazel physical organ, eyes.

I went outside today in my reading glasses. I didn’t realize I had until I felt dizzy halfway through my run. I assumed it was because I hadn’t eaten. It was only when I noticed the blue frame at the corner of my eye, rather than a green frame, did I realize what I had done, that my wooziness had nothing to do with running on an empty stomach. It was the wrong lens for distance.

Annoyed with myself, I took them off. The sky’s angry gray receded. The birds and bugs slipped away into an indiscernible break. I could hear the creek gurgling with too much rain, but if it sent sprays of exuberant water into the air, I didn’t see them.  

Reading glasses offer no help in reading trees, or even the license plates of passing cars or the signature of their makes. To try strained my eyes. The glasses were impervious. Without them, the focus changed, neither for the better or worse. I no longer saw anything the way I once did.

When I put on the right pair of glasses once home, the first thing I noticed was a thin trail of dust tracking across the wooden floorboards, as if some imperceptible creature had been to visit and left a mark like snail slime. I noticed a stink bug in the corner near the fireplace, too.

If I took off my glasses, I wouldn’t have to do anything about either. Both would vanish. I knew I would remember them, whatever I did or didn’t do. So I didn’t let them be. I tried to find the dust trail without either pair of glasses and with a hand brush swept the wooden floorboards without seeing what I was looking for. I pushed air, or maybe an accidental find of grit, into the picker-upper, rather than the well-defined line of dust I sought but couldn’t see.

Mid-sweep I realized what it was: residue from a high school friend’s rug stored there for the last twelve years. “Send now,” she’d e-mailed out of the blue. Duly on its way, I wondered what her glasses would magnify. Frayed threads, faded color?

Later I turned on my desk lamp and noticed a film of dust on its black metal shade. I was close enough to see it without my glasses. That’s how dust usually appears, indiscriminately on all surfaces. Wiping it away, a flurry of motes took flight then subsided without apparent pattern.

Sandy Feinstein has published creative nonfiction most recently in Michigan Quarterly Review, Orange Blossom Review, Punctuate, and Reader’s Digest, among others. She has also published fiction, poetry, and scholarly articles on Medieval and early modern literature.

Image Credit: “Alien Probe,” J. Ray Paradiso


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