Eye Exam

Scratch the little lines onto paper
later to be typed
I saw a row of them illuminated
on a wall
in the optometrist’s office,
a series of shapes calling out,
both language and image at once:
“What can you see?”

I saw most of them except the
rectangle blob—”E” I think?
A signal, an artifact
forged through the vapor,
the fear of dying
—not death, but the dying—
little letters
on paper
tucked away in cushions like
an apartment dog’s bone.

What are you doing with your life?
Thine is the kingdom.
The letter “E” is worn off
from my keyboard but of course
I know it from touch, automatic from
the home row, and
the shuffling click of each key.

I’d like to think it’s wisdom and not just
age and the dying
that quell the fisherman’s rage at
why he must battle the ocean.
Or maybe a fish that flickers in sun
is the worn letter in his heart
he can no longer quite make out.
And that is enough.