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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