20/20

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.

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