Step into this photograph with me
Fall Poetry Contest - Top Ten Finalist
It’s 1971. Faded, yellowed sepia, but it shouldn’t be.
Once was color; she’s paled.
He is a mustache, a ’68 Ford Mustang. She, an exotic dress
hand-tailored in the Philippines, sent overseas from [a father
rarely there for her].
I am not in this picture, not for nine years,
but the sunspot on the wall where it hung
is older than I am.
Step through it—
cheap frame from a thrift, flaking bits of plaster
to the unswept floor—
you’ll see the barn, the farmhouse door,
chipped farmhouse-white paint, farmhouse-white trim.
Step through that—
and there’s carriages yoked to horses strung at the
wrought-iron tiedown by the farmhouse-white shed. Imagine
they are Paints, chipped like paint, the tiedown rusted from
Step through the shed—
a vegetable garden: rhubarb, heirloom and cherry tomatoes,
an apple tree. Rhubarb for the pie; tomatoes canned for sauce—
a root cellar, door warped as the dog-ears of the photo.
Step through the garden—
to the field, yes, please, the field. Continue on, flat to the
next county. Grasshoppers arc on both sides, an archway
to where dogs run.
None of it is in sepia now; none faded. The yellows
are what should be yellow: wheat shafts, foxtails, French marigolds.
Its vibrant colors walk my heart,
footprints of history, hooves—
etched in vessel, muscle, tissue,