Come Closer

by Jiaming Tang

My grandmother went blind the year I turned thirteen. There were spots in her eyes:
thick brown smudges that blurred her vision, tunneling her sight.

She kept telling me to “come closer” when I visited. I was leaning against
the doorframe, watching her lie in bed with an arm outstretched, beckoning

while I stared at the milky film over her eyes (as step by step I approached), and when
she scrunched her face into a squint, her cornea gray and speckled, her burnt peasant’s arm waving,

“Come closer, come closer” (even though I was standing beside her), I gasped: for she’d placed a hand
like ice over my face, there was a jade ring on it, and spots, and it was wrinkly like an overripe

persimmon. She touched my glasses and for a second she seemed to shrink back, the way children
shrink back from spiders. But then I realized she was leaning to sit up, to rest her back like a camel’s hump

against the bed frame. When she felt situated, she whispered to me in a stench like rotting fish: “I can’t
see you if you keep trembling,” laugh-spitting in my face while the room sweltered with the heat of a

Chinese summer, not stopping until I took my glasses off, when she said: “You look like your grandfather
with those on.” I must’ve moved then, because she sat further up in bed (groaning, it was hard for her,

she would die later that year), and beckoned for me to put them back on. “Come closer,” she said.
“Come closer so I can see him again.”

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