263: Her Daughter's Eyes

263: Her Daughter's Eyes

263: Her Daughter's Eyes

Her Daughter's Eyes
by Luci Tapahonso

Leona looked into her daughter's face
knowing they breathe the same memories, the same blood —

dark and wet circulating
forever into time and others

who would have thought?
who would have thought ten years ago

this same woman who seemed destined
to a reckless crazy life: senseless days and
crazy nights could live so calmly?

remember? remember in 1975?

she hitched a ride with that harry tso gang
they were drinking speeding to cortez
for no reason but to get chased by the cops

she jumped out when the car stalled in a sandhill
and everyone ran

all nine of them scattered in the night

she ran — stumbling over bushes
crushing the doorways of prairie dogs
as the 6 police cars surrounded them

running, running in the moon desert

she fell—heart pounding, breathing in the dry dirt
sweating and crying in the moon night

sour wine breath in the sand

as the yellow searchlights criss-crossed above
the moon saw her heaving with fright

bits of brush in her hair

the police left, she got up breathing heavily


when the red tail lights faded into the horizon

she started west to home
on a narrow, rough road
Leona was left alone in the summer desert
never, never again, she said

gritting her teeth.

She might have forgotten that night except that
her daughter had eyes—dark, black, clear

like a warm summer night
around midnight or so

Leona had to tell her and she said:

Once, a long time ago, I was running
from the police late at night . . .

I know Mom . . .her dark-eyed daughter said
I was watching you for a long time and so I know.

You see
it was a common history long before
she came upon it ten years ago.
they shared the same memories and

who would have thought that
that one night would become

her daughter's eyes?

"Her Daughter's Eyes" by Luci Tapahonso, from SEASONAL WOMAN by Luci Tapahonso, copyright © 1982 Tooth of Time Books. Used by permission of the poet.

The Slowdown is a production of American Public Media and the Poetry Foundation.