FIELDS OF VISION by Roald Hoffmann

From the attic the boy
watched children playing, but

they were always running
out of the window frame.

And the weathered shutters
divided up space, so

that he couldn t often tell
where the ball Igor kicked

(he heard the children call
Igor’s name) would end up.

The boy was always moving,
one slat to another,

trying to make the world
come out. He saw Teacher

Dyuk’s wife with a basket,
then he saw her come back

with eggs; he could smell them.
Once he saw a fat goose,

escaped from her pen, saved
from slaughter, he thought.

Once he saw a girl, in her
embroidered Carpathian

Vest. He couldn’t see the sky,
the slats pointed down; he

saw the field by the school,
always the same field, only

snow turned into mud into
grass into snow.

Later The boy grew up, came
to america, where he

was a good student, praised
for his attention to facts;

he taught people to look
at every distortion

of a molecule, why
ethylene on iron

turned this way, not another.
In the world, he thought, there

must be reasons. His poems
were not dreamy, but full

of exasperating facts. Still later,
he watched his mother, whose eyes

were failing, move her head,
the way he did, to catch

oh a glimpse, the smallest

reflecting shard of light

of our world, confined.

(Published in Roald Hoffmann, “Soliton”, Truman State University Press, Kirksville 2002. Quoted with permission of the author.)