Vision: Myopic

by Jen Karetnick

Forgetting to make an appointment for contact lenses,
my eyes go without correction for months. Minus this clearing
mask on each retina, I recall when, at eight, I had a black eye

because I had hit myself with a baseball bat, the sclera so wounded
it never really would heal properly. Now the optic nerve

has been scarred into a risk for developing glaucoma, a way to
become partially blind as I age. Back then, the question I didn’t
like, again and again—what happened to you—from strangers were

keys to opening a door I didn’t understand was locked for others.
I sported that penumbra of possibility for a year, only thinking to

check decades of hindsight later for my mother’s reaction. She answered
the implied accusations in grocery stores while shopping to fill our barren
fridge, nudging me to back her up. Blurred, self-stifled, I never did.


Jen Karetnick‘s fourth full-length book is the CIPA EVVY-winner The Burning Where Breath Used to Be (David Robert Books, September 2020). Forthcoming books include Hunger Until It’s Pain (Salmon Poetry, spring 2023) and the chapbook What Forges Us Steel: The Judge Judy Poems (Alternating Current Press). She has won the Tiferet Writing Contest for Poetry, Split Rock Review Chapbook Competition, Hart Crane Memorial Prize, and Anna Davidson Rosenberg Prize, among others. Co-founder and managing editor of SWWIM Every Day, she has had work recently or forthcoming in American Poetry Review, Another Chicago Magazine, Crab Creek Review, Cutthroat, DIAGRAM, Jet Fuel Review, Notre Dame Review, The Penn Review, Ruminate, Tar River Poetry,, and elsewhere. See

Image: Artyom Korshunov

Image description: a close up pupil surrounded by gray and green layers.