Alva Goes to the Neuro-Ophthalmologist by L.S. McKee


The doctors will search
for imperfection,
will root out the cause
of tumor or freckle
with misshapen borders.
Whether malignant
or benign, there is
a scar in the orbit
of her eye through which
Alva sees the world.
In the waiting room,
the rows of vinyl
upholstered chairs are
arranged as if to
remind the disordered
the body is still
a pawn in space.
Alva shifts left.
Alva shifts right.
The doctors say she
is inflamed. Of course,
she is, she thinks, in
all the ways that matter.
She feels it in the cold,
blushing hands of the
young medical intern,
how she sweats in every
over air-conditioned room
and mundane exchange
that reminds her what
it now means to be
alone. Alva squints
under the fluorescent
lights and thinks about
how all parts of the self
swell when broken, how
the body inflames
to replace what it’s
lost. All day, she has
scrutinized her vision
and the objects it carried
to her. The oak trees
on Edgewood, their limbs
were a cumbersome
cathedral high above
the street. Overhead,
there was only green
fog where sunlight blurred
the leaves until the tree
was half sky, and somehow
it seemed the most truthful
version of a tree
she had ever seen—
how it was, from where
she stood, battered and
ordinary, on fire.


Photographic response by Vanja Čerimagić

L.S. McKee’s poetry has appeared in Best New Poets 2016, The Georgia Review, Crazyhorse, New England Review Digital, Birmingham Poetry Review, Blackbird, Ninth Letter, Gulf Coast, Indiana Review, B O D Y, Oversound, and elsewhere. She received her MFA from the University of Maryland and a Wallace Stegner Fellowship from Stanford University. She lives in Atlanta.

Vanja Čerimagić is a freelance photographer based in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. Since 2011, his work has focused towards the activities of development organizations in Bosnia and Herzegovina. He collaborates with various NGOs and works regularly for the European Union (EU), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and, most recently, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Along with his work as a documentary photographer, he is passionately devoted to concert photography.



Published on June 6, 2017.

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