In My Father’s Eyes, Mary Bonina tells the story of growing up and literally—being her father’s eyes—doing the seeing for him while he was gradually losing his sight from a rare genetic retina condition that would eventually leave him totally blind. This memoir is the story of a daughter and her devotion to her father.
In novelistic style, Bonina looks back on her father’s resilient personality, explores the challenges he faced, but also what he was able to accomplish in spite of them, highlighting both his courage and his very human flaws. Beginning in the parochial world of the 1950s, when Bonina was just six years old and accompanying her dad the last time he drove a car—his Packard 180 Touring Sedan, his pride and joy—she takes the reader along with her as she describes that experience and so many more, coming of age while trying to understand what blindness is—even trying to mimic what it was like as her father’s peripheral vision was diminishing in increments over the years, creating a tunnel effect for seeing.
My Father’s Eyes is not only a good narrative with a true sense of place, but one that also offers up the richness of language and imagery that you would expect to find in a poet’s memoir.
Mary Bonina is the author of two collections of poetry, Living Proof and Clear Eye Tea. Bonina has had memoir and poetry published in several anthologies, most recently in The Worcester Review—an annual, and in Entering the Real World: VCCA Poets on Mt. San Angelo; her work has appeared in Salamander, Hanging Loose, Gulf Stream, and many other journals. Her poem “Drift” won a Boston Contemporary Authors Award and is engraved in a granite monolith, a permanent public art installation outside Green Street subway station, Jamaica Plain on the MBTA Orange Line. Bonina is a fellow of the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, where she was named a finalist for the Goldfarb Fellowship based on chapters of her memoir, My Father’s Eyes.