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Click the play button below to listen to Hayden Saunier read
“The Wisdom Package.”

I ask the youngish eye doctor why my eyes itch
and burn and why new floaty bits
of paramecium-shaped debris swim

through my view each day, and he tells me
enthusiastically that this comes absolutely free
with the wisdom package—an honor

I have been awarded. I blink. And, he adds,
the wisdom package comes with lots of other
free stuff too, but just like life, some people

will get more than others. I guess he’s in his thirties,
forties tops, and I am falling in love with him
for his gentle way of reminding me I’m getting old

and that it’s a privilege. I’ve passed
the air-puff test, seen my retinal scans, which look
like the red-orange surface of the sun, each

with its pinprick dot of optic nerve—thin thread
connecting the eye to the dark, ornate theater
of the brain, where the picture shows of our lives play.

I laugh and ask him about knees and knuckles,
liver spots and forgetfulness, and to each complaint
he answers: Wisdom! Wisdom! Wisdom!

We do not know one another’s stories, how many
each of us has lost, the who or how of it,
from war, disease, or fate’s unfairness doling out

more death to some than others. He and I give
each other’s hand a quick squeeze, let go,
and get back to the business of my sight.

He swings a heavy black heart suspended
from a giant arm in front of me,
clicks through pairs of lenses

with the careful ticks of a slowing clock.
I blink and answer him each time: clearer,
better, thank you, yes, much clearer now.