I adapted to life out of focus.

My world was an impressionist painting: earthy hues blended the landscape as swaths
of grey streaked across the sky.

Silouettes danced in and out,
their edges fuzzy.

Like an artist, I played with light.

With the squint of eye, I could add shading;
in a blink, I could renew the canvas.

I don’t remember when I first experienced a lens.

It could have been as I pressed my face to contraptions at the eye doctor’s office,
or as I browsed the frames at Warby Parker.

Yet suddenly, I saw my mother’s bloodshot eyes
and swollen nose after twelve hours of wearing an N95.

The trickling wet paint of the slurs
graffitied in the parking garage.

The saltire of the confederate flag
paraded through the Capitol Building.

Perspiration on the foreheads
of anxious grocery shoppers
as they scoured the empty shelves.

The white knuckles of protesters
gripping their rifles
as they rallied on the Statehouse lawn.

Clouds of tear gas rising
among the hollers downtown.

The world was hurting,
and my impressionist period was over.

My reality is no longer as blurred as it once was.

Tara Alahakoon ’25 is a staff writer

Anna Zhou ’25 is a staff artist