For a Child Going Blind

I have awakened her
when the sky was at its blackest,
all stars erased, no moon to speak of,
and led her down the front path
to our dock, where we’d swim to the raft,
finding it by touch
fifty or sixty strokes from shore.

And sit
listening to things, the movement of water
around us drawing us closer, a hunched
double knot of child and father
hearing all there is to hear,
close beneath bats who see without sight,
whose hunger is fed by darkness.

The neighbors see her often in the woods,
on hands and knees, smoothing the moss
where it spreads in the shade, marvelling
at the tongues of birds, the stained petal
of the dogwood, the vein of color
skirting the edge of an upturned stone.

This morning she awoke to the first flash
of the magnolia, and will save the petals
as they fall, their purpled lids
curling white on the lawn.

We meant to tell her how the rainbows come,
how they close into shadows,
how we would be there nonetheless;
we meant to tell her before
they arrived at supper this evening,
rimming everything in sight.

She wonders if we see them
cupping the stars, the kitchen lamp,
each other’s face, and we say
we do.

Dan Masterson

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