At 17, I discovered leaves on trees,
carved veins of light fanning into
a kaleidoscope of green, sawed edges
sharpened into points, bird feathers
descending into arched clouds.
Looking out the window,
lens perched upon my nose, told
to examine the drip of eucalyptus
weighted in sky, held in a metallic grip,
with flaky fingers and root sprawl.
Is this how it’s supposed to be,
a spectacle of finely crafted edges,
when life had been pools of blue rooted
in waves of mountains, palo verdes
a smear of pollen yellow, cacti coated
and licked like well-groomed cats?
The day the world came into focus,
childhood became the soft underbelly,
a tangible abstract of cotton figurines,
until a glut of detail revealed
sticks no longer whittled into animal
shapes but sharpened into spears.
And here I am, in the wake of morning,
no lens to correct my vision, closing the
eyes of my 10-year-old self, only to hear
mockingbirds sing stolen trills, knowing they
don’t sing for joy, but rather to defend all the
imaginary lines drawn for self-preservation.