Through a Glass Eye, Lightly By Carolyn Kizer

In the laboratory waiting room
containing
one television actor with a teary face
trying a contact lens;
two muscular victims of industrial accidents;   
several vain women—I was one of them—   
came Deborah, four, to pick up her glass eye.

It was a long day:
Deborah waiting for the blood vessels
painted
on her iris to dry.
Her mother said that, holding Deborah
when she was born,
“First I inspected her, from toes to navel,
then stopped at her head ...”
We wondered why
the inspection hadn’t gone the other way.   
“Looking into her eye
was like looking into a volcano:

“Her vacant pupil
went whirling down, down to the foundation   
of the world ...
When she was three months old they took it out.   
She giggled when she went under
the anaesthetic.
Forty-five minutes later she came back
happy! ...
The gas wore off, she found the hole in her face
(you know, it never bled?),
stayed happy, even when I went to pieces.   
She’s five, in June.

“Deborah, you get right down
from there, or I’ll have to slap!”
Laughing, Deborah climbed into the lap
of one vain lady, who
had been discontented with her own beauty.   
Now she held on to Deborah, looked her steadily   
in the empty eye.
Carolyn Kizer, “Through a Glass Eye, Lightly” from Cool, Calm, and Collected: Poems 1960-2000. Copyright © 2001 by Carolyn Kizer. Reprinted with the permission of Copper Canyon Press, P. O. Box 271, Port Townsend, WA 98368-0271, www.coppercanyonpress.org.

Source: Cool Calm and Collected: Poems 1960-2000 (Copper Canyon Press, 2001)

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