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.