Grade A: Shadows

Written in Albuquerque (Terrace SE), July 2009.  A second attempt to poetically digest photos of my childhood and nuclear family.  The first is uncollected (later discarded).  Published in my books Tender Mystery and Wings of the Gray Moon.

Shadows

 

Childhood was a fever where you leaned against someone

who watched you painfully.  The time and the person

are lost in a golden smell, like a rare breakfast.

You can build that tall bewildered person however you like

and that tall time, when trees you couldn’t begin to guess

might as well have been a stone-columned porch

and made fun of your galloping clinging kind.  Someone

was your brother, with a slow smile:  someone whose toy you stole

screamed like wind.  Closed sun of sulks

must have littered on you, whole afternoons

in an unjust bedroom.  You can’t say.  If anything,

you’d like the brush of short hairs on the neck

of the man toting you, the silent heat of the woman

next your bed.  But even the bed (how that kept you,

whether it suffered) is down underneath the light.

You know these people from songs at most, not from photos.

The photos show a living little boy

with only a distant face, and still grass (stiller

than any world) and shadows on the land.

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