We went
to watch the hawks

glow their side
of the enclosure

eyes wet from
looking, afterwards

in the museum
park I watched Lou

rub the lit
cigarette into her arm

sun spilling over 
her face, knowing

she was blind
to me sometimes

you can look
and look

the trees the trees the black
and gold glassed-in air, museum
of monkey figurines and butterflies
gallery of important and iridescent
rocks the Jurassic spider the mastodon
marginalized birds of New York City,
taxidermied dove, sparrow & starling

not lifting
a hand to stop her

eyelashes winging
open as she looked

at the scar the eye
of the hawk turning


Copyright © 2016 by J. Mae Barizo. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on May 24, 2016, by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem

“Observing an object or action exposed, something that is usually hidden, feels like a violation.  The vast diorama rooms of the Natural History Museum are dark, inhibited.  I wanted to see what a camera sees, the lens on someone I love, the starkness of the diorama suddenly oscillating between what is real and artificial, violent and tender.”
—J. Mae Barizo