I know she's there,
in the photograph,
behind the rest of the family, lurking
in the shadows below magnolia trees.
The rest of us are saying, "Cheese."
She was fashionable
in long black skirts,
with matching ballet-style slippers.
Her chestnut hair had a Parisian flair,
short with long, wispy bangs,
that her dark, shoe-button eyes peeked through.
She wore large golden clips
on long-lobed ears.
A smooth gold tube
encircled one thin arm.
I can see the glint in her
eyes, I think,
just up and to the left of
my grandmother's white hair.
I think that's where she stood.
The little girl in the pinafore is me.
The glimmers could be
from a blackbird
on an unseen branch,
hidden in shadow,
When she was part of our family
she often escaped outside
and walked on the hidden side
of our rustling hedge of copper beech,
or sat alone in the birch-white gazebo
where smoke could be seen
drifting out through the wintry air,
when she was there,
reminding me of an Eskimo snug in her igloo.
Inside my grandmother's old brick house
she always nestled in a deep,
green-and-blue-striped wing chair
at the foot of the winding stairs.
She sat very still, could have posed for
a portrait of the Virgin Mary,
if she'd been holding the Holy Baby,
while she read "Can This Marriage Be Saved?"
in "The Ladies' Home Journal,"
When my sister and I looked up
from our dolls one day, she'd gone away.
I think it IS her eyes I
see looking out at me
from under the
Elizabeth Southwood Nov. '97