It was Aunt who taught me not just to look, but to really see. She taught me to look with an artist’s eye, and that’s what I’ve done in my work. I’ve seen the planets with an artist’s eye, charted their courses with a sense of the beauty their paths carve through space.
Connecting memory, perception, storytelling, and the art in science, ‘The Blind Astronomer’ focuses on a woman – an astronomer – faced with failing vision.
Today as I waited at the train station, the sun’s dying light hit the track, showing a milky streak curved across four of the railway ties, like the spine of a big fish picked clean by eager teeth. In the instant before the train pulled into the station, over it, obscuring it, I made sense of what I’d seen: it was a peacock’s straggly tail feather, its eye eaten away, or maybe just tucked under the sleeper’s wood, out of my sight.
Runner Up, 2001 BNZ Katherine Mansfield Award
…a thoughtful, beautifully realised story about a woman preparing for blindness
—Fiona Kidman (Judge’s Report, 2001 BNZ Katherine Mansfield Award)
‘The Blind Astronomer’ was included in The Best New Zealand Fiction Volume 1 (Vintage, 2004), edited by Fiona Kidman.
‘The Blind Astronomer’ was first published in New Zealand literary journal Sport 28 (Autumn 2002), and was adapted for radio by RNZ.
‘The Blind Astronomer’ features in the essay ‘Do You See What I See?’ in Purple Prose (Fremantle Press, 2015).