We lived for years and everything
was easy. Our fingers understood
thorns, so we could touch each
other’s hair and roses had a scent
that the mind wasn’t forced to imagine.
Clouds appeared and passed slowly,
so we only had to look up.
In life — Dear God — there were oranges,
rivers, violins, and hours just
waiting for the bread to rise.
In the Nightland, years go by
as we struggle just to remember
those gifts. There is no fruit
no sense of taste, no gentle breeze
to bring the clouds toward us
from the sea. We spend a century
imagining brown hair tucked
behind a girl’s ear, then go on thinking
of papers tacked to a crumbling wall.
Because now we are merely dreams
that never end, forever fading,
slowly forgetting the living world.
I took the photo above about 30 years ago, in the back yard of my grandparents’ home in Delano, California. As I was editing the poem I began to think about the photo, which I hadn’t seen in years, and about trying to find it in the old albums. All photos start out as images of places, things, or people. But over time, some become images of memories.
The photo has been cropped above. See the original here.