Saturday, September 06, 2014

Old Poem, Old Photo

S. was cleaning her room this afternoon and needed a magazine holder for her many copies of Nature Friends and Pockets. I didn’t have a new one, but obligingly moved some homeschooling magazines and old Vegetarian Times to give her one of my old holders. In the process, I discovered a tiny notebook where I’d jotted some rough drafts of poems in 2007.

It’s fun to come across snippets of verse you jotted seven plus years ago. I remembered none of these poems and pieces of poems clearly, though the genesis of the ideas or a turn of phrase occasionally came back to me as I glanced through the pages. Most of them are in nowhere near sharing stage, but one of them made me smile (for a reason I think you’ll see in a moment) and I thought I’d share it here. It’s untitled.

I found my grandfather
at twenty-three.
Twenty-three, both him and me.
I that young in bone and skin,
he that young inside, within
a small glass frame, a photo gray.
He still is twenty-three today,
smiling, so serene and fine,
while I’ve moved on to thirty-nine.

                                    EMP (1/9/07)

What makes me smile about this little poem are all the layers. I really did find a small photograph of my grandfather, aged 23, when I was 23 myself. I was at my aunt’s house, looking through boxes of old pictures, and I remember how wonderful that felt, to have that kind of “connection” with a man who was so important in our family, but whom I never had the chance to meet. He died six years before I was born.

I keep that photo of my 23 year old grandfather on my bureau. And I do recall the day I picked it up and realized that the smiling face in the photo was still as young as the day I’d put it in the frame, while I’d aged sixteen years in the meantime. Now another seven years have gone by, and the layers continue. I’ve passed on to the age of 46, and my young and smiling grandfather is still peering out at me from the frame. He was born in 1901, so it’s been 90 years since that photograph was taken.

No comments: