by Sara Backer
Loretta happily plunges into this puddle,
lapping water, black tail waving. When she hauls herself out,
mud drips from her long white fur.
But a cold snap turned the puddle from black to white,
and now Loretta’s paws slip on the sturdy surface.
The outer edges froze first, slowly squeezing concentric rings,
shrinking the puddle into the semblance of an eye
with a giant iris and pupil, pine needles and oak leaves
trapped in the ice—painful splinters that can’t be pulled out.
The woman, bundled in parka and scarves, aims the camera
she calls her “seeing-eye camera” since her own eyes, inflamed
and filmy, can no longer be believed.
Later, on her computer, she’ll see what she looks at now.
The sadness of the flat white eye embedded in the lonely woods
pulls from her eyes small tears that freeze in her lashes.
She wonders if any water is left in the puddle,
in the deep center, below detritus and decay, even one drop.
With shepherd instinct, Loretta grows uneasy
and noses the woman’s hand. Time to go—the air
well below freezing and dangerous—yet the woman can’t stop
watching the eye of ice, staring blindly beyond her.
published in Bicycle Lotus (chapbook)