Poetry | September 01, 1997
Clouds over Long’s Peak, the sky blue everywhere but there,
and when I glance away and back, they’re gone. Imagine:
I make the highest mountain disappear by tipping my head,
even by shifting my eyes. Watch that herd of mule deer
on the slope, floppy ears like semaphore: gone, a blur
like TV reception in the fifties. When I blink left
or right, they’re back, magic. In night flight,
they taught that staring at a light too long
would saturate the rods or cones, a blind spot
we could find by sweeping left to right like radar.
A few more years, the specialist will pluck them out
like pearls, presto, bringing my vision back
like a picture tube, the world once more in focus.
If it works, that is, no procedure perfect.
Here from the cabin deck, I watch the river
cascade left to right, flowing to nothing but a roar,
then a shimmer twisting away downhill. For years,
we watched our son come rafting with his friends,
a bucking, rubber float jolting them into shrieks, so close
we could snap them as they passed, mouths open, holding on
in white-water rapids flinging them hard downriver
past the trees. I’ve turned old photo albums right to left,
a blur of portraits and snapshots. I’ve helped my wife
tidy his room, storing trophies, giving away good clothes.
I watched the car towed back, glass and metal
mangled out of focus, a scarred blur almost a car
that didn’t burn. I’ve been to the scene, walked down
the ledge and lowered myself by roots and boulders
where his car careened. I’ve stood there where it crashed.
I’ve turned my eyes to focus far as I could see downstream,
even twisted in my chair, thinking I could hear
his voice behind me, not merely the river’s roar.
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