The Iris Remnant
My daughter sits looking straight ahead, chin slightly tilted, and waits for the Ophthalmologist to finish her examination.
Irina is a slender woman with long hair affixed in a bun and an enviable aura of calm. Her job is to examine the eyes for
flaws, disease and quirks. She searches, corrects, treats and often discovers the beginnings of more serious disease. Today,
she is checking something in my daughter’s eye that our optician spotted and wanted further opinion on. My child is
six years old with olive green eyes and has been wearing glasses to correct unevenness in vision; a short term measure we
have been told.
Irina beckons me over, adjusts the microscope and invites me to look into my daughter’s right eye. She speaks
softly and I cannot hear a word she is saying. I have travelled far in two seconds and my breath catches on a ragged sigh.
The Iris is magnified to lunar proportions, and I am tripping across that moon, weightless with wonder, silenced by this vivid
world. From two o’clock on the right of the iris to eight o’clock on the left, there is a skein stretching. It
does not so much bisect the iris as lies gently but tautly on its bed of green-brown and oddly purplish swirls; oceanic green
trumps bogland brown. As I continue to gaze into my daughter’s eye, I curse the Gods who refused me artistic expression.
With brush and colour, I could preserve what I am looking at into perpetuity. I could paint a thousand canvasses of this iris
and throw away all but one; the acuity of the moment would stand out in just one.
Irina is still talking to me and I hear her now,
She tells me about this phenomenon and how in the fetus, the pupil is enclosed by a thin vascular membrane that is
mostly absorbed before birth. Sometimes the strands persist beyond several months of age. For some people, they are multiple
and cause problems. In my daughter’s case, there is just one strand and Irina tells us she will have it through her
life, and it is unlikely to cause any issue. My daughter listens intently, a shy smile on her lips, and she is pleased to
be different in this small way. I can tell by the blush on her cheeks; in this minute of self-awareness, she is triumphant.
Irina takes out her pen and on a sheet of paper she draws my child’s eye, complete with eyelashes and iris remnant.
She gives this to my daughter who holds it tight. Irina tells me she and her husband do not have a family, although they longed
for children. She is a delicate-faced woman with porcelain skin and auburn hair and is very beautiful in a Pre-Raphaelite
way. She wears her personal sorrow gently as she turns to my daughter; she tells her she is very special.
We take our leave happily, and while I pay at reception, I watch my child twirl around the room. I suppress a giggle.
She is my perfect little piece of unfinished business, with her Iris Remnant.
We saunter down the street in the cutting West of Ireland February air, full of ourselves
and the magic of our discovery. I tell my child she was meant for florality.
My daughter’s name is Lily.
Kilcoyne is an Irish writer and lives in Ireland.
She wrote book reviews for the Irish Sunday
Business Post. She won her first writing competition at age four for an essay entitled ‘My Cat.’ The path