O’Sullivan

Patrick Cotter

The man with the old Leica had just one subject:
left eyes – not right eyes, not whole faces;
left eyes blinking, left eyes winking

left eyes glaring, left eyes staring
left eyes squinting and peering, laughing
and crying. He photographed people eyes

dog eyes, cat eyes, cow eyes, sheep eyes
crow eyes. He bought a microscope
with a special lens-adapter and photographed

spider eyes – always the most lefty of the eight.
At first, he photographed whole faces
and cropped everything out except the left eye

but then he developed the confidence to focus
on the eye alone, from all angles, in all shades
of light, even in darkness, reflecting the moon.

When it came to the eyes of the dead
he had no access to battlefields or morgues
so he would steal into funeral homes, approach

a solitary corpse laid out in open casket, pin back
the eyelid and snap. Then he went to market
and captured the eyes of severed pork heads;

he swept along the fish stall snapping salmon
shark, tuna, mackerel, monk and plaice.
He processed and printed the negatives

himself on special luminous card, hung them
on his ceiling, so he would drift asleep every night
staring at constellations of eyes, left ones.