Photograph

December 12, 2007
By
There is a box of pictures on the closet floor
Candid expressions that make me laugh
People standing not perfectly still
Blurred faces caught by surprise,
Too late to duck out of site:
These pictures are the most honest kind

I can capture the world by its tail in a picture
A photograph, a fixed memory
It exposes the secrets and mysteries of a civilization’s past
Or it just fills a plastic frame
Everything in the box is a piece to the puzzle
So that, when I can’t recollect my past,
I will find it there
The picnics, Christmas portraits
The old street and the crabapple tree
I would’ve sworn that the attic was haunted,
And the too young faces of my old best friends

The time between the photographs
Is something fun to compare:
Look at me at six, at twelve
Always dressed for ballet in a black leotard
As if I had never left
The cat that would hide in the white cotton curtains
My bright eyes catching the six-o-clock sun
Proof I am my father’s daughter—

His eyes the same blue-green,
Like they were built from seawater—
I love every embarrassing picture
Every old Polaroid with its labeled frame
And I think of how we’d take them,
Hold and shake them, until the blacks of the centers came to life
Forming the shapes that were our friends and our world
Photographs are stories where words don’t do justice
The box is my prized keepsake
More live in scrapbooks or on mantels,
In the coffin tables and under beds
And yours?
You must keep your stories
Never throw an old picture away





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