Three from Collin Jones

patient

sitting

across from 

me 

was a soon-to-be

married 

couple.

a low-income

but joyful

couple.

he was a new

patient.

he selected

me as his

optometrist.

and in the process

of investigating

the gentleman’s

optical needs

i was told

about his

terminal 

illness.

liver

failure.

a silence

filled the

examination

room.

we want

the basic

exam

no additional

testing,

she said.

cataracts, glaucoma,

macular degeneration,

retinitis pigmentosa,

none of it makes

any difference.

he won’t be back.

i nodded

taking notes

doing my job

the best 

i could

remaining

stoic

as i was 

trained to do

in optometry

school.

understood,

i replied.

the gentleman

was forty-three

years old.

nineteen years

my junior.

how much longer

he had left

was none of my

concern.

i was tasked

with making

this gentleman’s

vision as crisp 

and sharp as

possible.

so that he might

carry 

the crystal

outline of his lover

and all else that is

beautiful in this

wretched world

into

that infinite

sleep.

the

resignation…

the 

fear…

the 

heartbreak…

i’ve said enough.

it is late.

and there are

referrals to

write.
the void

how peculiar

that formless

void

each one of us

occupied

before being

plucked

from the still black

waters of non-existence

and enlivened

by the shape

of daydreams

and night terrors.

Surveyor

two large eyes 

set in a round face

peer through the coffee

shop window

surveying my latte.

the young, flushed cheeks

and spit-shined eyes belong

to a child i have seen

many times before.

a boy.

he presses 

his dried lips

into the smudged

glass.

in one hand 

he holds an empty

Styrofoam cup. in 

the other—

three withered

sunflowers.

he smiles—

revealing one

and a half

teeth.

i feel myself

engulfed

by the unforgiving

vines of apathy.

i feign having 

seen him. but he has

found me out—

smiling, nevertheless—

holding out

the flowers and 

shaking the cup.

i tell myself: next time.

always: next time

Surveyor.

now—

for lunch.

BIO: Collin Jones is a philosophical pessimist working on his MFA in Minnesota—forthcoming novel in late 2021.