Ava’s Lesson: Crossing Fresno’s Traffic Lights

For a Blind 11th Grader

At the end of your mobility lesson—
Crossing at Traffic Lights—dusk ignites
ribbons of orange flames, fingering

the winter sky. For three years
I’ve preached the gospel of safe travel.
You know all the math: how many inches

you must arc your cane across your body
to avoid running into poles, how to measure
the depth from street gutters to curb tops

with your cane, and what moment to press
the pedestrian button so you can position
yourself between yellow lines, ready

to cross Kings Canyon Road with the surge
of parallel cars. At each lesson, you plant
your four-foot-eleven frame on a corner,

a silhouette in the afternoon sun, black hair
riffled by a breeze. Sometimes you giggle
when pop music thumps from a car radio,

then you recover your focus, stepping
from curb to street, your timing
as accurate as a metronome.

Today you hesitated. It was the big trucks,
you say. Startled by the boom, you stood
frozen, as if clamor alone could flatten.

Sally Vogl