My wonderful niece Amy posted this picture of my mother, taken before I was born, when she was just 22, on Facebook yesterday. I'm not sure I ever saw this image of her before. The photo was wrinkled and scarred, so I copied it. As I restored it in Photoshop this evening, I found myself engaging more with the image than I had when it was posted. The result was a bit of ekphrastic poetry below. I read it to Veronica after I wrote it, and suddenly found myself in tears. It's been a long time since I cried for my mother. I'm glad I did. I miss her still. Thank you, Amy. I do love my family so.
Before Mom, 1937
You lean with the joy of effort–
pulling on oars, unafraid of the load
you carry. Smile in spite of darkness
over your shoulder, not caring where
you’re headed, light of heart, warm
sun on your face.
This was thirteen years before we met. Before
confidence slipped over the side, convinced you
you couldn’t be an artist, or happy. Before too
many pills picked the pockets where you kept
that smile; before cigarettes, booze and the boat
you rode stained the overalls, robbed you
of the strength, the thrill it takes to pull into
each day, head up, radiant, delighted to be alive.