Snapshot in Sepia

Poem by Sharon Venezio. Photo by Kees Terberg.




I
Years ago, my mother closed her bedroom window
and never looked out again.  She collapsed like a wave
folding inward.  She said hope can be an anchor;
it’s easier to just let go.

I was fourteen and just barely paying attention,
straddling Billy’s bike seat
while he pedaled standing up.
As the world turned on the grainy screen
of my mother’s TV, Billy and I watched leaves
circle down from the maple outside my bedroom window.
They’d land on the hood of the orange Cutlass,
gather like unopened letters.
 
 II
Our house had a crawl space
we entered through a removable bookcase in the wall.
I’d scale suitcases and boxes of family photos
until I reached the end.  I’d draw a window on the wall,
open it up, let the pretend breeze pour
over my face and body
like my mother in her secret life
breathing the salt air of the sea.
Now I stand at the edge of the ocean
scatter her memory like a constellation
splayed across the night sky,
like moonlight unstitching the stars.
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