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Too Much There

Jack Jordan Avatar Jack Jordan - Premium MemberPremium Member Send Soup Mail Go to Poets Blog Block poet from commenting on your poetry

Below is the poem entitled Too Much There which was written by poet Jack Jordan. Please feel free to comment on this poem. However, please remember, PoetrySoup is a place of encouragement and growth.

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Too Much There

My mother was a life-long keeper of photo albums. 
She had several of them saved from her youth 
filled with black and white faded to yellowy-grey 
family photos of long-dead relatives 
posed around a new grave or 
an infant in a tiny coffin,   
in horse-drawn buggies on the way to church, 
my grandmother in the chicken yard.
The albums had faded brown covers, 
crumbling black paper pages, 
photos held in place with paste-on corners. 
As a child I spent many hours looking at them, 
asking who the faces were. Some she could recall; 
many were lost to her.

There was one photo, taken in 1957, 
according to the date printed on the edge of the photo, 
which seemed odd to me, a puzzle.
In it I was a child of twelve, 
dressed in what must have been 
a borrowed boy’s suit and tie. 
I stood next to my mother 
on the front porch of our little house in Dallas. 
The image was taken looking slightly upwards towards us
(the photographer was on the bottom step), 
perspective exaggerating our facial features. 

It occurred to me when I was older 
that there was a paradox in the photo: 
I was smiling and squinting into the sun;
my mother’s shoulders were stooped, 
her face twisted in something internal
that I couldn’t see.

Perhaps it was the growing awareness 
of my own mortality 
that led me not long ago to look again,
to decode the message: 
the photo was taken the day of my father’s funeral. 
My mother was compressed by the agony of my father’s death, 
a weight and loss almost impossible for her to bear. 
But what was happening with the child me? 
I suppose it could be called denial, 
but I had moved into the now-familiar space of not-knowing. 
Perhaps this blankness contributed 
to my taking so many years to understand. 
Whatever the cause, I wasn’t there; 
my mother was too much there.

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  1. Date: 4/29/2013 12:27:00 PM
    Jack, this is remeniscent of the circle of life. I have found reliving past experiences sometimes come out quite beautiful on paper, as this one does

    Jordan Avatar Jack Jordan
    Date: 4/29/2013 1:03:00 PM Block poet from commenting on your poetry

    Yes, writing is great therapy. Although this happened in 1957, there is still some emotional pain. Seeing the photo again was a reminder... Jack
  1. Date: 3/9/2013 9:36:00 PM
    These are the memories that we later learn to treasure. I myself love old pictures. They bring us memories from the past. Thanks for sharing this with us. Many blessings. Lucilla

    Jordan Avatar Jack Jordan
    Date: 3/9/2013 9:38:00 PM Block poet from commenting on your poetry

    Thank you, Lucilla, and your very welcome. Jack
  1. Date: 3/8/2013 11:54:00 PM
    Beautiful write! I find works concerning ones roots incredibly fascinating and I found this to be a very personal piece. It's a neat way to put it... "Too much there"... life and death happens all around you regardless of us paying any attention to it... but where is the turning point between childhood and adulthood? Does it happen all of the sudden or over time? Some things to ponder... thanks for sharing.

    Jordan Avatar Jack Jordan
    Date: 3/9/2013 9:09:00 AM Block poet from commenting on your poetry

    Thank you for the compliment and perceptive reading. I suppose a piece like this could be interpreted as DIY therapy, but I passed that long ago. This one and the earlier piece about my father are more recollections than revelations, realized and refined over time, as you suggest. Jack