Taking A Look

A plastic bag of photos pulled down from
the attic, in the time to give things up.
There go Aunt Adelaide’s dyed red hair, her bald 
husband’s cap, my mother grinning shyly 
next to Selma on the roof of that shared

building, the sun-warmed tar, their ruffled white
dresses, Selma’s lisp, her thin knobby arms.
Were they lovers? There go three women I
never knew, in long bathing suits on a
pebble beach like Brighton. Look at those jaw

lines. They must be Nana’s cousins on a
visit from the North, who first applauded
her in music halls as she chirruped her
songs. There goes my sister, also smiling
on a roof. Is this genetic? Her white

bathing suit a flash of satin among
TV antennae, years before she gets
taken away. There she goes with father,
their grins lit by the flash, almost arm in
arm. Wave goodbye—two brothers, one holding

the other who hasn’t yet learned to walk,
shadows of the El a spider web that’s
cast over them. Doesn’t the future count?
Here’s a not so dusty album kept safe.
Look at the neatly placed prints of last year,

how you and I smile on the bank of the Seine,
holding tartines beurré, the gray Paris
sun the same softening hue as the river,
our reflections caught down there like half drowned
revelers as the past keeps rushing by.
John Allman | Mudlark No. 37
Contents | In The First Place