Colour Blind

by Angela Pickering

Once when great aunty went out,
great uncle was told that if feeling bored
he could help by pegging a bit of her rug,
an autumn creation of coloured leaves.
When aunty returned she smiled and shrugged.
You’ve done the colours all wrong, she said.
One day my brother rang to ask
the colour of mother’s dressing gown.
He wanted to buy birthday slippers to match.
I remembered he loved to draw as a child,
but the roofs on his houses were always green,
instead of russet or brown.
At just fifteen my son agreed
it was time to consider his future career
as an electrical engineer.
He watched intently when the man came
to mend our broken-down washing machine.
They look much the same to me, he said,
observing the tangle of coloured wires.
Perhaps I shall have to think again
I took my son to the doctor’s
for the Ishihara test -
pages of coloured dots among which
numbers would appear.
Some he failed to distinguish at all.
Others were not what they seemed to suggest.
There is a flaw, the doctor said,
in his rods and cones.
He is colour vision deficient,
has trouble with red and green
and other in-between tones.
Nothing serious, my dear,
though there may be some restrictions,
if he wants to indulge in night flying,
or navigate buoys at sea.
Women are the carriers
for this condition he’s got.
I wasn’t surprised. For a rather shy boy,
he favours bright yellow jumpers a lot.

Copyright © 2020 Angela Pickering


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