There's an olive grove inside the fence
that circles the home for the blind.
I drive each day past the gate
where they come to the crosswalk
in mismatched couples,
having one great thing in common.
I'm braked, the motor off,
making up names.
There's sightless Elena leaning
on the stoplight, twelve-year-old Samuel
gripping her wrist. Redhead Anya
drops her cane to the curb,
stops the traffic as she searches.
I always picture their dorms at night.
Roommates, Anya and Elena
drink wine after lights-out.
The gray, forbidden cat
nudges their knees for food.
Elena pours too much milk,
filling the bowl from fingertip to knuckle.

At first the drops sting.
The nurse holds my pulse and offers me gum.
This is the third test
in a month, various lenses.
I watch the doctor's forehead underwater:
G P X R. I have to correct myself twice.
Glaucoma, pressure on the retina's
subtle nerves; some,
like my grandmother, go crazy from it,
more than blind. I can't concentrate ---
I'm five again at midnight,
wake to grandmother carrying blankets
to my bed. In the morning,
I'll stare at smudges her hands
have made for years along the walls,
see her turn from the dress pattern
laid out clumsy on the table,
her mouth full of pins ...

After bourbon all night,
we undress with the lights on,
do it in front of the closet mirror.
You're on top with eyes half closed
when I ask you to look at my face,
grab my neck and look
at my face. Your back's arched
forward, hair across my chest.
The first warm night this winter,
we open windows to the lights
in the valley. No one should be
permitted to love the moon,
you say.
And each night it's smaller for me.
Even tonight, full.


I wake from the dream
where grandmother leads me
along the walls of an endless house,
stucco cutting out palms.
I sit up, touch
your sleeping face, try
to imagine blindness. One hand
across my eyes, the other
on the oranges, the wicker basket.
Still life in darkness. Oranges:
dwarf stars colliding. In the valley,
Elena's asleep in her chair.
Anya wraps her arms
around the cat. She's decided
his eyes are green, his fur
is brown and streaked with silver.

--- From Interrogation Palace:
New and Selected Poems, 1982 - 2004

David Wojahn
©2006 The University of Pittsburgh Press
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