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By Lee Sharkey

A rubber-coated metal bullet struck Ziad's eye during clashes in Bethlehem. . . . His eyeball fell in the palm of his hand and . . . he kept holding it till he reached the hospital. He thought they could put it back in.

                                                        -Muna Hamzeh, Refugees in Our Own Land

What do you do with an eye in the cup of your hand?

What do you see that you didn't?

What do you make of a sphere of jelly with fins of torn muscle?

What do your fingers impress on the rind?

Do you rush it to hospital, where a surgeon waits to fuse sight to vision?

Does the eye have a nationality? a history?

Does the eye have a user name?

Its own rubber bullet?

Where is the eye transcribed?

A little globe there and you are the keeper

Of the watery anteroom, the drink of clear glass

Dear eye

Once it lay snug in fat in its orbit

Once it saw as a child

Through humor a peppering of stars

Added: Monday, June 30, 2014  /  From "A Darker, Sweeter String" (Off the Grid Press 2008). Used with permission.
Lee Sharkey
Photo by Al Bersbach.

Lee Sharkey is the author of Walking Backwards (Tupelo, 2016), Calendars of Fire (Tupelo, 2013), A Darker, Sweeter String, and eight earlier full-length poetry collections and chapbooks. Her poetry has appeared in Consequence, Crazyhorse, FIELD, Kenyon Review, Massachusetts Review, Nimrod, Seattle Review, and other journals. Her recognitions include the Ballymaloe International Poetry Prize, the Abraham Sutzkever Centennial Translation Prize, the Maine Writers and Publishers Alliance’s Distinguished Achievement Award, and the 2018 Maine Literary Award in Short Poetry. With John Rosenwald, she co-edited the first and second Split This Rock festival chapbooks. Lee counts as her most important work the workshop she has facilitated for thirty-one years for adults recovering from mental illness.

Other poems by this author