for Sharbat Gula
He’s no expert when it comes to reading women’s eyes,
although he’s learned it’s wiser to be cautious
about what they seem to say than to place much faith
in thinking he understands. “What goes on
behind them is mysterious,” a woman once told him.
“We believe in the dreams of our lives
because we must and so we tell lies to keep our hearts
from breaking.” This woman, though, is different.
Her sea-green eyes, staring out into the gallery
from worlds away, burn with unspoken resentment.
Only once before in his life has he met a gaze
of such ferocity and that was thousands of miles
and decades ago from behind the steel-mesh netting
of a raptor enclosure. He tracks memory back,
recalls taking the shot, focusing out the netting, drawing
deeper into his viewfinder the image of the bird,
a white-headed sea eagle, golden-eyed, scimitar-beaked,
poised still as stone on an amputated tree-stump,
its unforgiving eyes ablaze with fury, its wings clipped.