An excerpt from Wandering Eyes

Wandering Eyes

Aileen Gallagher


With a sly, sideways 

                        glancing stare 

I saw the scene 

            unfold—not told 

directly, but with daring, 

            glaring speculation 

I saw it all…

                     despite my cautious, 

         feigned fascination 

         with the boring blackness 

         burning in my cup. 

                                 I saw him first, 

         the flailing arms, 

                                 the stern stubble, 

         the clumsy voice,

                     all catching my attention. 

         But there she was 

     at second sight, 

         right next to him, 

                        her quiet eyes cast down. 

                                    With stealth stares

      I saw her age

         in her furrowed brow, 

                                 in the worn wrinkles

         of her permanent frown. 

                                 Her lips, I could see, 

               had quavered and cried. 

                                 (Her tongue, I know, 

                   has quarreled—maybe lied.) 

                                                      And I saw her eyes 

         in one minor moment 

                                 shed their lament, 

         leap from her lap,

                                                   and lie, instead, on me.                

                          And, yes, I saw her 

                                 features soften then,       

         rapt in some reverie, 

                                 projecting her lost 

         and latent dreams, 

                                 correcting all those things 

         that tend to confine

                                                                   with tethering time. 

         But I saw most clearly

    the space between

         he   and   she,

                                     and with it all of life’s  

                                    brute incongruities

                          mixing and sparring

                      in that cruel chasm of