Eyes That Pour Forth

Karen Britten

Brother Michael remembers finding the girl standing in the doorway of the Tanzanian monastery where he lives. She is holding the remnants of her eyes in her hands—milky white orbs with pink muscle attached to them like the trails of twin comets. She doesn’t cry, but she trembles and quivers in the door frame, and the other monks, white Franciscans from places like Scarsdale, New York, and Wichita, Kansas, gather around her and embrace her with robed arms. They find out that she can see from those eyes when she describes the room in detail: the tanned hide lamp by the oak table, the woodstove by the front door.

After it is established that the fifty-pound girl is a miracle from God, the clotted sockets where her eyes used to be are wrapped several times over in white gauze. Brother Michael learns that it was her mother who took a knife to the girl’s face because she kept walking into her mother’s room while she worked. Her mother didn’t want to see her with all those men, so she grabbed a knife and made it so she couldn’t. Only the girl didn’t want to stay with her mother after that; she picked up her eyes from the hard-packed-dirt floor and walked to the monastery. She knew to go there because she would often follow her mother and brother there when they needed food or their bodies fixed.

The monks name her Lucy after the saint.

Brother Michael often cries when he sees her, when he looks at those eyes in her hand. She reminds him of the suffering in the world, of mothers giving birth to stillborn boys, men losing legs to accidents in the field, AIDS patients, and malaria infestations. He picks her up after all she’s been through and lets her rest her head on his shoulder as he carries her into a vacant room down the hallway. He places her under plaid bedsheets thrown over a wooden plank before dropping her eyes into a plastic cup filled with saline solution.

“Brother,” Lucy says. “Will you take me to the ocean?”

The rest of “Eyes that Pour Forth” is available in the print edition of Dappled Things. To read it, you can purchase the single issue here, or subscribe now (include a message to start your subscription with the Easter 2013 edition). You may also read this prize-winning story, along with the other finalists selected by editor Joseph O’Brien, by purchasing a copy of the 2012 Tuscany Prize for Catholic Fiction collection.