Camera Lens

Elton Cao

Taking labored steps through faded photographs.

Do the oaks speak my language? Touching

rough bark with unworked hands and flinching

at the splinters. No, they don’t.

But I was not telling the truth. Diminutive footprints

springing up behind me, promptly erased.

A leaf in the wind, stuck in a bench.

The fork in the road, a cork in a wine bottle.

Walking with confidence in a daze. Drooping

branches reaching down, rustling in the chiming

winds. I wonder what I should do in this life.

Early dawn touches the faded bay. Why

am I here?

Mountains glare at the sun above. Pale shadows

line the streetlight, heavy raindrops sliding to disappear

in the ground. The air is warping around me,

bitter when it touches the cold metal.

So the shadows are stretching.

But everything’s going to be gone: leaves fading

into black, the world crumbling away until


I hear the sound of stirring animals. Icy breeze bites

my cheek: damp wood soft beneath my fingers.

Sitting amid the green lights, hoping that

I have made myself proud.