Eyes On Him

Caroline Bock

-“Beauty has a strangeness”– Linda Gregg, from her poem, “Fragments”


Mottled, veins afloat, shadows flicker, the lid dips, and resists, pupil presses outward, barricaded by flecks and flashes. Thin film, refracts. Blink. At night, involuntarily tears scour from all corners. Lambent lights, glow, gleam—and blink. Blink. Fight the darkness, its allure, and then only darkness. Except, you discern him: the contours of him, the roundness of his face, the slopes of his shoulders and back, the beauty-mark trail of moles descending from his neck, which fingers find and patter down. Sight is not always needed. And in the morning-light, even if he’s already in the mists of showering and shaving and humming, the radio on, the news on, the top of the hour sonorously announced by National Public Radio, the spike of deodorant and mouthwash, and even if you are caught on the wrong side of the looking-glass, groping for what remains of vision, he is near. Blink. Blink. Blink. He doesn’t like to be looked at in the mornings like this: toweled and brutish. Stripped down to bones and ambition. “Beauty has a strangeness,” said the poem. Ambition has more strangeness: stealth until it is not, light until dark. At the mirror, he doesn’t realize you aren’t looking, that you can no longer see him. You are blind, at this moment.

Caroline Bock’s debut short story collection, Carry Her Home, is the winner of the 2018 Washington Writers’ Publishing House Fiction Prize. She is also the author of the critically acclaimed young adult novels: Lie and Before My Eyes from St. Martin’s Press. Educated at Syracuse University where she studied creative writing with Raymond Carver, she then spent two decades as a cable television executive at Bravo and IFC. For her second act, she earned an MFA in Fiction from The City College of New York in 2011. In 2018, the Arts and Humanities Council of Montgomery County awarded an Artists & Scholars grant to her for her novel-in-progress. Currently, she is a lecturer in the English Department at Marymount University in Arlington and a workshop leader at the Writer’s Center in Bethesda. More at www.carolinebockauthor.com or at Twitter @cabockwrites.