There are two small worlds of beauty in each of us, no matter what other ugly or weakness we may have: two eyes protected and encased in our flesh, an architecture of bones beneath tasked with no purpose other than to hold the worlds upright and affixed forward or upward, on stars or loves or gods; these two eyes may be all we have in us that are beautiful but they are there and they are things of beauty, be they brown or blue, green or hazel, morphing, aging, clouded, white, blackened, broken or defective, there are at least these two small parts of us that are beautiful. The brain sits behind, a linguist translating eternally, amazed at every new word and phrase, for this world she uncovers is otherwise unknowable.

This is why I removed my eyes when I was Josiah. The light was too much, the world too much, and I was never happy with what it showed me, or with myself as a part of it.

I was a quiet child from a quiet time, who labored myself into an attractive and graceful man; yet as I chose to destroy my form slowly with blades and whips and irons and fire, I mastered the ability to endure it all in silence. My skin scarred, my body distended, engorged then starved, I finally realized that there was no form of myself or the world upon which I could ever gaze and not be discontent; so one night I removed my ability to see, unceremoniously unseating my eyes from their sockets and dropping them into the fire. The night became indefinite, so that fire, the smoke between the stars, the soft full moon, dulling quickly to red haze, it all stayed with me as pain for hours and days; it is one of the few images my mind clung to for the rest of that life, and that I still remember vividly. But eventually the true darkness of lacking settled in over all of my mind, and though I knew the world was utterly the same, it seemed forever changed and changing, ancient and somehow wiser for being thus unknowable in that way.

The mystery and strangeness of the rest of that life was touched with gushes of brilliance: the heat of the sun on my skin, ripped away from the concept of light which I’d ever before known accompanied it, was a bliss so sinful I’m not sure there is any comparison with anything else I’ve ever known in all my lives before it or since. To know the light was on me and on all the world around me but not be able to see it, to eventually lose even the remembrance of what seeing it had been like before, and yet still feel that warmth; it was better than lust or drunkenness or victory.

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