“The Way I See It” by Diane Lefer
When hundreds of small black birds tremble
the water’s skin like vermin
you know you’ve got a jaundiced eye.
Besides which you’ve got transmission lines
on rust hills. Dusty tamarisk. The wind. And black,
barren the mountains. Dwarfed, mere hills
as though geologic liposuction
reduced them from the center long ago.
By you, of course I mean me. And believe me, I try.
But I see no miracle in your (and that’s your, not my) baby.
How can I be impressed
with a being that can only grow to be something
that is very much like you or me?
Two eyes, a nose. Those little fingers and toes
that so impress you. I have the same and so do you.
Ah, jaundiced eye! The membrane slides away.
A lizard doing pushups on the rock. So different
from me it can be no other thing than Life itself.
Fingers, toes, eyes and mouth. A pulse.
Its heart pumping, and mine that had closed down, armored,
explodes open to beat–beating beating–again.
Lizard, lifted from the rock, throat pulsing.
Cold-blooded in my hand.
first published in El Portal
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Diane Lefer’s Artist Statement:
Diane Lefer is a playwright, author, and activist whose books include the story collection,
California Transit (Mary McCarthy Prize, Sarabande Books), the novels The Fiery Alphabet (a
Small Press Pick, Loose Leaves Publishing) and Confessions of a Carnivore (Fomite Press),
and non-fiction, The Blessing Next to the Wound, co-authored with Colombian exile Hector
Aristizábal and recommended by Amnesty International. Her works for the stage include
Nightwind which has been performed all over the US and the world including for human rights
organizations in Afghanistan and Colombia. Diane has led arts-and-games-based writing
workshops to boost literacy skills and promote social justice in the US and, in Spanish, in South
America. She lives in Los Angeles where she works with torture survivors from around the world
rebuilding their lives in California. More at: www.dianelefer.weebly.com