Old Photos

At her wake, I spent hours with scrap books,
tottering through photo albums, adding
her memories to mine. It’s funny
how you can watch someone dying
through still images, how the flash bulb catches
the twilight of the elderly, her death rattles
transmitted through the negative.

The sound like an old jazz singer, too stubborn
to admit death has wrapped its scythe around
their vocal cords. I look at her wrinkled face
laughing at some family barbecue, and I hear
Neal Armstrong

Why is it that the tatters of a song
can clear a path through the snow
covered world of memory for so long?
How can the voice of some jazz man replace
my grandmother’s laugh for two weeks?

The layers of protein in our brains, weather
so thoroughly from the acid of our thoughts.
The dreams though, pile and mix,
until what I thought I was
is replaced by what I can never be.

I will never be in this photo album,
There are no moments here for me to recollect.
Her face, so vivid inside the casket,
has already began to melt from memory,
like a picture, yellowed with neglect,
trying to scream off the dust, with that voice,
that phlegm the dying accumulate,
displacing everything about life they forget
they once loved.

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