Debra Kaufman’s newest collection of poetry is The Next Moment (Jacar Press 2010). She is also the author of Family of Strangers (Nightshade 1990), Still Life Burning (South Carolina Poetry Society 1996) — winner of the Kinloch Rivers Poetry Competition — Moon Mirror Whiskey Wind (Pudding House 2009) and A Certain Light (Emrys 2001). Her poems have appeared in many anthologies and literary magazines, including Virginia Quarterly Review, Greensboro Review, Spoon River Quarterly and Carolina Quarterly. Her short and full-length plays have been performed throughout N.C. and elsewhere. She is the recipient of a N.C. Arts Council playwriting scholarship and of a grant from the Central Piedmont Regional Artists Hub program. She lives in Mebane with her family and cats.
MYOPIA, FALL, 2001
Because you can’t see
how your house needs cleaning,
you can walk guilt-free into the fall.
It’s September, after all:
first wind in a month
lifts leaves, their undersides tinged red.
Your shadow’s a stranger—
so quick, so fresh, after August’s long burn—
and, though you can’t see
the sharp markings of a jay,
you know that cheeky blue streak
for what it is.
Through Martino’s tinted window
a familiar shape touches the wrist
of a dark-haired woman.
He might not really be your husband.
Your heart tolls a warning
but you don’t look closer, you
hurry home to be comforted
by what you know is yours—
your grandmother’s rocking chair,
these family photos,
the gray cat half-opening
her green, predatory eyes.
On the radio you hear terror
crashed through this clear sky,
their voices all stutter and blur.
Though you live 1000 miles
from New York, you must
get your sons out of school. Now.
You pick up the phone.
Your mind fogs over,
lifts from your body,
sees your hand as a foreign object.
You breathe it in, odorless and colorless,
this particular air of the new century.