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Poem: Cataracts 

At my grandmother’s I used to sit by the front door
holding der Forverts, the almost-dark interrupted

by the glittering edges of glass vases, gilt demitasses,
the porcelain child’s starry dress; worn oriental rugs swirled

over the floors like water. My grandfather would lift me
onto his lap, hear my aleph bet, then send me outside

to play among the rosebushes in the dirt patch
between the house and the garage, six bushes across

to the twisted wire fence with the scallops on top,
six back to the locked door, the Chrysler sleeping

like a whale in shallows. Over my head, perfect roses
with the names of kings and queens unfolding on sparse

stems of tear-shaped leaves; on the ground, nothing.
My first eyeglasses sparkled, the frames plaid

as the wrappers on Lorna Doones. As I walked to school,
my feet came up and the houses along Chauncey slid

from side to side over my head as though the earth
were a bubble I was inside of, but in school I could see

the board, Conservation next to a chalk tree, its roots
sucking up pastel blue water.

When I lied to my friends, I’d be blind by 13,
the world stopped, there was music, and I swelled

through the leaves like a fairy-tale giant. The halos of stars
looked like cars coming. Now it’s hardest to see

in the mornings and evenings, Bradford pear leaves melt
into house paint; alternating lights and darks become

racing animals. On sunny days, the world divides itself
into planes, clear and sharp as glass

stained with bright organisms. I become a child, the lens
of my eye, the curve of the Earth.

  • A poem by Lee Gould


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