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.