fiction, poetry & more

Honorable Mention
$25 Award

For a visually impaired 12th grader

by Sally Vogl

What jumps out from eight pages
of doctor’s notes is that Natano,
hailing from a Fresno street gang,

was shot in the head by a rival.
Skipping ahead to the words
optic nerve atrophy, I imagine

how he sees now, fuzzy, the way
a lake distorts reflections of trees
and clouds due to choppy waves.

I’m nervous about this student;
will he lash out at me and will he
be irritated that his new walk

will be slow and deliberate,
not suitable for chase scenes?
If he’s willing to use a cane,

I’ll show him the hand position—
the thumb on top supporting
the index finger and remaining fingers

wrapped around the instrument—
similar to holding a gun.
I go to the room where Natano

is isolated, the principal
only allowing him outside
after other students have safely

reached their next classrooms.
I notice the scar under his eye,
think of the bullet now removed,

the skin sewn shut. 
Hello, he says.
I’m not prepared for his softness.
Thanks for coming to teach me.

— Sally Vogl


Sally Vogl earned an MFA in creative writing from California State University-Fresno. Her work has appeared in The Comstock Review, damselfly press, The Hoot Review, The Main Street Rag, and Step Away Magazine. Sally has taught visually impaired students in the Peace Corps, South Dakota and Fresno.