Contact Lenses


it is a tongue holding itself like an ear. its rims can’t keep

their shape. they lisp into the mattress, leave the sheet

apostrophed against the wall, head slapped, gagged in froth,

dreams tipped, bound in bruise-fade.


in the morning it is an eye. it draws white-flash fences

on its locked doors. where are the tarps that were

always being hung, tall, reflecting their stains back

onto the skin? the feeling that even having a tongue


makes it evil, and especially if that tongue were spinning

over an ear. loose a tire, suck in language that

is always the stomach’s shafts and axels slipping.

in the morning it also finds that it has dreamed of


contact lenses, big as a hand, dry and crooked. lick out

the mouth’s inside till it is round and stripped.

it wants to be the tongue rubbing sore the wet teeth but

has more limbs to air, cloth hutches to cut and bolt.



Before I put on my glasses the book forces itself on the poster

which peels into its circle in glue stutters, matches the cracked

cover’s swoop, just as easily scurries when my brain cuts the

dimensions. It liked being deepened, I can tell by its shadow’s little


shudder. The commisure of sun and fan like a certain smile. I

dreamed a yellow badger was on fire but wrapped in a wet page

emerged unharmed. I slept on my glasses and dislocated their

wires, a fish skeleton on the wall. A trick of the light like being sure


you’re bleeding when you’re not, or that, unthinking, you’ve

slashed the brittle irons of a thing. Without glasses it’s difficult

to walk down steps. The stairwell is sucked into a stench of distance,

cheeks bowed, gagged on hellos and green daylight tapping glass.


Things are too thin or too thick, and things I didn’t say yesterday

try to dry their dribbles on my reflection’s lips, the ones made only

of light: its hand on my back, breath down the necks of potted plants

horny for the hope of water but held in a dust rut on the lens.


Betty Rosen

BETTY ROSEN is a PhD student in Arabic literature at UC-Berkeley, as well as a freelance literary essayist and translator of Arabic fiction into English. Her literary essays have appeared in Vol. 1 Brooklyn, phoebe, The New Engagement, The Point, and Intern Magazine.

Contributions by Betty Rosen