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The Photograph

by Ken Harnisch

I.

In the scattering of photographs upon my bed

I have not yet seen the one of me she took

With her new Nikon, back when photography

Was her chosen life, and not that of housemate to

Some reprobate politician, who took her for his wife.

 

II.

Her photographs, in the grainy NEWS, do not

Do her any justice, and do not certainly

Have the gleam or nuance she once had for those

Who, caught and frozen in her camera’s eye

Seemed delighted for their apprehension before her loving gaze.

 

III.

She looks shopworn now, her smile etched so cold

In the stonework of her chiseled lips and eyes

The ice is forming on her silvery wings;

The words she says are crafted in the spinner’s void

If they were really hers, I know I’d be much more annoyed.

 

IV.

She called me once, out of the blue

To tell me she was leaving for a while

And though no words were put around it, I knew

He was whisking her away, from all of this, he said

When I asked the date of her return, she smiled and said she couldn’t say.

 

V.

So, I guess, it’s something; to be the nit in someone’s biography

That a keen-eyed historian, years from now, will stumble on

And if I am alive, he or she will find me in the airy halls

Where the old folks play their mah-jong and their deathsongs

Hooked to the bleeping, beeping thig-a-mah-jigs that keep us all alive.

 

VI.

If she is dead by then, or him, and if my anger is untouched

By ameliorating years or my own good fortune 

At finding a new, redeeming love to call my own

I may tell all to them, and see my blistering words in print someday

But in truth, I’d rather find that photograph; it’s all I have of both of us alone.

  

12/08/1999

Author's Note: Inspired SOLELY by a short story I didn't write...back in the old days, before war, where my poet's library is accessed for a time to help me ameliorate the blackness of feelings caused by....let's say...world events.

Posted on 03/28/2003
Copyright © 2022 Ken Harnisch

Member Comments on this Poem
Posted by Kate Demeree on 03/28/03 at 04:05 PM

I like this Ken.. it is very different from what you have posted, yet it is the same... there is a thread of bittersweetness to this.. and in the end, an admission that somethings are far more important than others to the heart.

Posted by Melissa Arel on 03/28/03 at 04:09 PM

I like this.. I like this a lot. :) A wonderful piece to add to the collection. Each poem of yours is a photograph.. what an amazing album you have created! Great read..

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