In the viewfinder the road with a stripe
down the middle leads to a red barn
against a very blue sky in the distance.
The eye doctor clicks one lens after another
into place, and asks which combination
gives the clearest view of the scene.
While picking new lenses out of a tray,
she starts talking about her morning,
how in the middle of driving her two
daughters to school, one of them discovers
she's left her homework and binder at home
and pleads for her to turn around. Would
you do that, she asks me. Would you give
in even after you've told them time
and again it's their responsibility
to make sure they have everything
they need before we leave the house?
I'm not sure how to reply. What if
the kid gets points taken off and
can't make it up with extra credit?
Instead I think of how I have gone back
to bring my daughters what they've called
about, frantic or in panic in their need.
Have I been too soft, too sacrificing?
The barn on the screen isn't really
red, but closer to brown. There aren't
any turns or four-way stops on the road,
no traffic lights, no geese or crossing
deer to make the landscape even mildly
interesting. Again, I read lines
of letters diminishing in size, until
I come to a row that looks like a trail
of evenly spaced ants. I want to say
I've seen skies crosshatched with
wheeling birds—a murmuration. Unlike
the ancient Romans who thought the shapes
they made were augurs from the gods,
I can't predict what comes next
or say with certainty how a moment
connects to something that came before.
Poet Luisa A. Igloria (Poetry Foundation web page, author webpage ) is Co-Winner of the 2019 Crab Orchard Open Competition in Poetry for her manuscript Maps for Migrants and Ghosts, forthcoming from Southern Illinois University Press in fall 2020. She is the winner of the 2015 Resurgence Prize (UK), the world’s first major award for ecopoetry, selected by former UK poet laureate Sir Andrew Motion, Alice Oswald, and Jo Shapcott. She is the author of What is Left of Wings, I Ask (2018 Center for the Book Arts Letterpress Chapbook Prize, selected by former US Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey); Bright as Mirrors Left in the Grass (Kudzu House Press eChapbook selection for Spring 2015), Ode to the Heart Smaller than a Pencil Eraser (Utah State University Press, 2014 May Swenson Prize), Night Willow (Phoenicia Publishing, 2014), The Saints of Streets (University of Santo Tomas Publishing House, 2013), Juan Luna’s Revolver (2009 Ernest Sandeen Prize, University of Notre Dame Press), and nine other books. She is a member of the core faculty of the MFA Creative Writing Program at Old Dominion University which she directed from 2009-2015. In 2018, she was the inaugural Glasgow Distinguished Writer in Residence at Washington and Lee University. When she isn’t writing, reading, or teaching, she cooks with her family, knits, hand-binds books, and listens to tango music.