Jennifer Givhan

The Problem With My Eyes
          in memory of Sophia O’Neill

is that what they see
burns imprints in the light

so when I close them there are shadows
the shapes of what I cannot lid

when the sky is bright as blood with first morning light
this is not a problem

the way I look up toward the mountain’s curved spine
the jagged rocks pinned with firs

& the background swims with light
I mean it teems with it, for the swirling

of my eyes, for the blurring they create—
but when I see you, child, still

crushed beneath your mother’s boyfriend’s boot
the problem is I need to know what light you saw

before you swam toward what must have been a sandbank
a spidering web a trapeze net

or was it blurred or was it rocks or was it me
who never knew you but would have loved—

child against that shadow, I carry you.

Jennifer GivhanJennifer Givhan is a Mexican-American poet from the Southwestern desert. Her full-length poetry collection Landscape with Headless Mama won the 2015 Pleiades Editors’ Prize (forthcoming 2016). Her honors include an NEA fellowship and a PEN/Rosenthal Emerging Voices fellowship, the Frost Place Latin@ Scholarship, The Pinch Poetry Prize, the DASH Poetry Prize, a Kenyon Review Young Writers Workshop fellowship, and her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Best New Poets, AGNI, The Kenyon Review, Rattle (2015 poetry prize finalist), and Southern Humanities Review (2015 Auburn Witness Prize finalist). She is Poetry Editor at Tinderbox Poetry Journal and she teaches at Western New Mexico University and online at The Poetry Barn.

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