Vanishing Point

Dilruba Ahmed

In a park just past where a child

                                      with bike & backpack

              could disappear from view

I once watched my mother

              haul an oversized goldfish

                                      from the muck

of a lake. When I sink far

              into the well of memory, I extract now

from the scene an under-chill—

                                             a latent frost

              creeping toward our feet

through cattails & weeds the full distance

               from the paper mill’s striped

doom-stacks leaking plumes

                                of lead-heavy fumes.

              I feel the creep of windowless

vans, hear the flap-flap

                                of flags whipping bricks.

              I see symbol and suggestion.

Foreshadows and forecasts.

                                I dwell on pattern, intimation

              so that no part of me

can cling to a bleached version

                                of snow-globe sweetness:

               woman and girl-child painted

with the pearly magic

                                of nostalgia’s glitter—

               blue pond, lush grass,

cool breeze clearing the sky.

                                I see instead a fable

               sharpening into focus

about a giant lustrous fish

                                stretched into a life as large

              and as full as

its poisoned habitat would permit.


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