Two Pictures In Black and White

For Ida Woodworth McKee

The girl in sepia has turned, arm propped
along chair-rail and holds a finger
to mark a page she may have read but dreams
instead perhaps of romance, of what
is surely golden and greener than the moment
she faces, as if away from any graying
the shutter might make of her, and perhaps
she scans the rainbow of props from which,
for her design, she’s borrowed this book and postures
as if just disturbed from her green hopes
as yet unread, and holds acquiescent, compliant,
paused still for exposure that frames forever
gray proof of her dreaming.

This was before eleven children; before
the ruined farms brought her here where
we find them, a sunlit evening stout years
past her dreams and theirs. Eyes squint
angles away from sun-glare, relinquishing
not one false grin or joy’s grimace
toward composing a visage for the shadow
of “say ‘cheese,’ please.”
She sits, hunched forward, holding still
a book, perhaps Bible, perhaps poetry,
under her hand, one finger hidden in pages,
aligning perhaps the various greens
in shade, shadow, sunlight and sky
with what lean leadenness dreams have come to—
she glares against the sun as aperture exposes
her and them within a frame they will
forever see still without color—
even the grays in black and white to blur
the edge of legends they compose.

“Two Pictures in Black and White” appears in the manuscript, Have, a book of poetry by Lee Robison that will be published in the fall of 2019.


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