The Photo

I look at your picture

               arrived suddenly

               some unexpected Christmas card

how wind teases the fabric

               of your life

                              so gray

hair escapes

               your face

                              your eyes

                              wandering a bit

lips pressed together

               against what troubles me

               to remember

               from our brief reunion

days of homelessness

               when you carried a mattress

               through the tony streets

                              to your newly acquired walk up

finally finding a steady job

               your long travels

                              between two cities

                              and telling me how

you wanted to be

               in the same town

                              the same country

                                             as your children

and yet how you pretended

               their different mothers

                              weren’t left

to pick up pieces

three quarters of a century painted now

               onto your cheekbones

               lodged in the square of your jaw

like forgotten landscapes

               until you go to that gallery

               and spot the one canvas

               on the far wall

where we’re splattered across the jagged crags

               jutting over the cliff before we slid

                              into the ocean

waves

               lap lapping until

                              they dissolved even the wanting

               that once fueled our days

now

               you are a stranger

                              grown old even though

                              you’ve dressed in holiday red

                                             shirt stretched thin

                                                            against the gale

I’m stuck in the moment

               trying to find us

                              stepping back

backward

                                              into that studio

apartment grown warm

               with our bodies

until cold wraps my shoulders

               and I’m left

               again with what’s here

beneath my thumb

               bereft in front of

               your unknown face.