When my girl’s eyes begin to drift

Dayna Patterson


I pinch the air     thumb and finger

instead of speaking     I trap the thinnest      slice of nothing     

sheet of light      to sync her gazes     into one,

to bring her eyes aligned     

with mine  

the body language      we worked out together

less painful     (she tells me)

than the words I used to say

(Your eyes are wandering)

her shrinking into herself     as if I’d thrown 

a box of tacks

Somehow me nipping     the space between us      hurts

less     than a verbal reminder     however gentle      however

soft I make my voice approach her     on tiptoe      in plush socks     or padding 

soft as one of the wild rabbits

that lives in a neighbor’s      blackberry thicket

    word knives      scalpels to such thin     

tender skin     we’ve tried patching remedies     hours

of convergence / divergence / auto slide 

where the blue square     and the pink one

move together     and apart     on the computer screen’s 

dark field and she     in 3-D glasses     must click the shapes

I cannot see     I imagine     a time when my gestures 

won’t be enough

to bring her back     to herself or pluck      away the invisible 

hurt     the stings and scrapes     I can’t bandage

I imagine a day when words

less soft     may assail her     those inch-long spines

she rabbiting straight towards them

Dayna Patterson is a former managing editor of Bellingham Review, the founding editor-in-chief of Psaltery & Lyre, and the poetry editor for Exponent II Magazine. She is a co-editor (with Tyler Chadwick and Martin Pulido) of Dove Song: Heavenly Mother in Mormon Poetry (Peculiar Pages, 2018). Her poetry has appeared recently in Hotel Amerika, So to Speak, Western Humanities Review, and Zone 3. Her work can be found at www.daynapatterson.com

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