My Husband Takes Some Photographs of Me
By Liz Rosenberg
It’s like coal in your stocking,
to open the yellow Kodak package
and find one dim disaster, then another; me
dead-faced and gloomy, almost invisible
with all my freckles gleaming like the Milky Way.
I opened the packet in the tiny back room
while he worked the register, the hum
of customers. He came and found me
sighing through the stack like a dismal fortune-teller:
No one could call this woman beautiful.
He took the photos from my hands
but hurried through them first
searching for--something; like the doctor
who fails to bring one life to light.
I knew he’d never let me see that face again,
fading around the mouth, the downward pull
so like her mother’s gravity.
The girl he’d courted was a meager ghost
who held still in the eyes while the other
woman moved and said Cheese.
I’d seen her sometimes limping toward me
in a plate glass window; I had glimpsed her in the bottom
of a mirror when I stumbled out of bed unwary.
My poor Columbus, what a ravaged country to discover!
He held my head, he held my arms, in bed,
in the darkness; then we beheld each other
aging, muscular, and mortal, smelling of life
wrapped in a warm sheet. His eyes caught the gold
from the hall, dark blue and gray-blue
as the door swung shut, till I was staring through a black hole
but still his face was turned to me, like a white flower,
his eyes a flash of light.
Then I was safe in his arms for an instant,
drifting off. My husband takes a photograph of me.
From Poetry Magazine, May, 1987