With Thanks to Dr. Parvataneni
We never felt so young as at the eye hospital,
seven a.m., seniors awaiting surgery,
whispering and wondering why we’re here.
From India to Jamaica, alighting long enough
to be with us as the anesthesia takes hold.
A decade later, you’re moving to California,
telling us gently, your way in everything.
“You really don’t need a cataract specialist anymore.”
Translation: any old pediatric ophthalmologist will do.
How were you not afraid to choose
a lens strong enough for her to grow into?
How strange it will be not to notice your bronze fingers,
once a week at first, then monthly, and yearly, and to
think of their lightness, their precision as they fluttered
over our baby’s eye, getting ready to make the cut.
You made us think we could do it, peeling off tape and
shield three times a day to drop the antibiotic into her eye,
five years of patching and blurring, our graduation to glasses.
Our goal: 20/40 corrected. Good enough for driving
someday. To see the icicles making their necklace around
the gutter, to watch the lichen marking the spruce.
Naomi Dean teaches ESL at a public elementary school in the Twin Cities, Minnesota, where she lives with her husband, son, and daughter. Naomi’s work has recently appeared in Poetica, Sylvia, The Madrigal, NiftyLit, Collateral, Plainsongs and JAMA.