Psalm with Near Blindness
The world mostly gone, I make it what I want:
from the balcony, the morning a silver robe of mist.
I make a reckless blessing of it—the flaming,
flowering spurge of the world, the wind
the birds stir up as they flock and sing.
Edges yes, the green lift and fall of live oaks,
something metal wheeling past,
and yet for every detail alive and embodied—
the horses with their tails switching back and forth,
daylilies parting their lobes to heat—
I cannot stop asking, Sparrow or wren? Oak
or elm? Because it matters
if the gray fox curled in sleep
is a patch of dark along the fence line,
or if the bush hung with fish kites
is actually a wisteria in flower. Though
even before my retinas bled and scarred
and bled again, I wanted everything
different, better. And then this afternoon,
out walking the meadow together,
my husband bent to pick a bleeding heart.
Held it close as I needed
to see its delicate lanterns,
the shaken light.
Deer, he says, our car stopped in traffic.
And since I can’t see them, I ask, Where?
Between the oaks, he answers,
and since I can’t see the between,
I ask, In the dappling?
He takes my hand and points
to the darkest stutter in the branches
and I see a shadow
in the sight line of his hand, his arm,
his blue shirt with its clean scent of laundry,
my hand shading my eyes from glare.
There! he says, and I can see
the dark flash of them
leaping over a fence (or is it reeds?),
one a buck with his bony crown,
and one a doe, and one smaller, a fawn,
but by then it seems they’ve disappeared
and so I ask, Gone?
and he nods.
We’re moving again,
and so I let the inner become outer
become pasture and Douglas firs
with large herds of deer, elk, even bison,
and just beyond view, a mountain lion
auburn red, like the one we saw years before,
hidden behind a grove of live oaks,
Copyright © 2022 by Julia B. Levine. From Ordinary Psalms (LSU Press, 2021). Used with permission of the author.