Cities and suburbs, real and imaginary.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

her name, twice

read her name twice, couldn't place it
i knew the name, not the picture
but you never know the pictures
families pick the best picture, and it
never speaks the truth, never looks
back at you like the one you knew, ugly
smiling and unsmiling

that name
was it church? a temp job or some ex's distant
met only once before an earthquake?
that name
a news report? scornful misery dragged across a screen
naked, bleeding, wailing tears so of course i couldn't recall
the face if i only knew it screaming
except when people went missing, didn't they
dead, didn't they use the pictures like this one
in the paper - just like this one

in case of emergencies, call these numbers
use this photograph if anyone wants
a picture to go with the name.
written in her will, she chose a picture,
paper-clipped it to tell people in the paper
who i am, how i want my face to be remembered

that name - wait:
an actress played a woman with that name

then, in a flash like the click of a remote
on a flickering screen of times I know
her great-grandchildren will be like me soon
sitting in their pew, at a death mask
they barely know. they engaged more emotion
on the screen than the that woman in a wheelchair,
sitting at the edge of photographs, who rarely spoke
she was just so happy to be there, eating cake
with all those beautiful children

the little ones looked
the old one looked
each face a strange blank

in thirty years time, the face on the screen
will merge with the woman.

The grandchildren will tell stories to their grandchildren
about love and violence and this person
born between two pictures.

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