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.