Prologue

When I look at the photograph of myself—
an infant in my mother’s arms—

I recognize my usual expression:
that solemn stare,

that vague air of melancholy
under the fuzzy knitted hat.

My pale mother is a stranger though.
She could never have been that young,

and as far as I know
she never knit anything.

It’s all there: the darkness
that will take me, the cancer that will take her.

In another picture, unsmiling on a swing,
I pump into the future,

my mother already a shadow–
dark silhouette just out of sight.

Photographs—those expert witnesses—
are potent as dreams the moment of waking.

I close the album
and put it in a drawer,

the one that sticks
and is seldom opened.

Linda Pastan

Linda Pastan

Linda Pastan was Poet Laureate of Maryland from 1991-1995. In 2003, she won the Ruth Lilly Prize for lifetime achievement. Her 14th book, Insomnia, came out in 2015, and her 15th, A Dog Runs Through It, is due in May.
Linda Pastan

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Author: Linda Pastan

Linda Pastan was Poet Laureate of Maryland from 1991-1995. In 2003, she won the Ruth Lilly Prize for lifetime achievement. Her 14th book, Insomnia, came out in 2015, and her 15th, A Dog Runs Through It, is due in May.