Saturday, December 1, 2012

Wedding Photograph

I'm sure the glamorous portrait was her idea.
The lady relished costume, the spotlight--
my mother was a monarch at heart.
She’s wearing the fur coat that saved her life:
that coat with layers of chic dresses beneath 
took up two seats and got her thrown off 
the evacuation train spitfirers blew up 
soon after it left her at the Paris station.
She melts Lana Turner-like into the camera, 
beautifully, irrationally serene, 
floating in myths, as she was prone to do, 
the myth that she will make sense of this man
so inclined to withdrawal, 
that she will uncork him, dramatize him.
And look how much she achieved their first day! 
Look at his lordly bearing! Handsome and uniformed. 
What aplomb in a man whose eyes and lips often clenched 
but here my father looks coolly past her 
across the room with only the faintest gleam of recalcitrance
in his blue eyes. 
Does he sense already the distance between them? 
The daily parade of grievances he will endure
about his bluffing, lying, drinking, 
all the other disquieting acts of  this injured soul?
And I’m in the picture too, hidden under the coat, impelled
to share their  unease, their wandering lives, 
which will prove interesting at times but never
as grand as she’s imagining here.
He died 14 years and two days before her  
and when she wailed with grief, her torrential tears
were not for him but for what might have been.