Losing a Staring Contest

/ /

for Mira, at four

Sometimes when the steady
stream of her chatter dips
quietly underground
and all her galloping vim
returns to the trough of her body
to feed, I too become still,
tethered to the fixed brown
of her eyes, which, though the rest
of her seems keen to disown

the daily hand-me-downs
of itself, are already the size
they’ll be when she is grown,
and flaring in them I see,
as if projected on a wall
by the light of a match, the shadow
of the creature she will be
in time, when, with luck,
I’ll be old, but not gone—

and all the while, of course,
as if this were a game,
she’s staring back at me
with a gaze of her own, seeing
what? But here the field
of my vision bleaches to white,
as if I’d stared at the sun,
and my eyes shut, and I hear her
snort and gallop away.