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Cyclops


ISSUE:  Summer 2011

My grandfather’s right eye was a frozen slab
of milk-white ice that light never thawed
and when he slept, the lid didn’t drown
the curse of its constant stare.

Look at it long and you’d be salt, stone—
fear’s hard form. And look we did,
though we blinked against its spell, the worm
or ray or evil thread of its insistence.

I’d watch him read with half his face alive
and the other like a tool, oiled, hanging
from a hook as if you could take it in your hands
and make it work, but you couldn’t.

The eye that saw the words counted money,
lit his pipe and bet on horses at the track.
It measured out his evening whiskey and led him
to the thresholds of our rooms to say goodnight.

O, calm, wheel-eyed giant, you might have tamed us
had we let you hold our hands the way
you wanted or stood beside you closer
when we looked into the sun and forced a smile.

But your hands were colder, more distant than
your gaze, and standing in our doorway your head
was like a moon, vast and disappearing,
occupied by all its phases and so we tried

to pass unseen, unknown even as we sharpened
and heated the stake of our revulsion
and plotted when to thrust the smoldering tip
not into the eye that roved and guided

but into the one that monitored the smoky,
ice-stung realm inside your skull. Now that you’re gone,
lift your curse, look at us more clearly
with whichever eye condones forgiveness.

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