An Old Photograph
I found an old photograph by the lake-
A young woman with dark hair, gray face,
leaning against a painted wall.
Unsmiling, beautiful. In full white,
with nothing exposed beneath delicate layers
I wondered if she'd lived near, or if somewhere else,
how many miles?
I wondered how she'd laughed,
who she'd loved,
how she'd died.
Why didn't they smile often for pictures back then?
I wondered, if it'd been the custom,
would she've had a reason to smile?
I wonder if she ever felt the hard pang of regret.
How loud it screams,
how noticeable the most useless things get.
And did she ever think to blame herself?
Or was she wiser, her face a mask
for knowledge, that indifference is sometimes best.
If she were alive, and walking past me on the street,
this would all mean nothing.
But her gray nothing arouses something in me.
I can't help but wonder,
If she ever felt lost, did she find her way?
And afraid, did she face her fear in the end?
I imagine if she could witness me,
there holding her picture,
she might herself, feel something of wonder.
And maybe at some place in time where she waits,
her mountains would've grown smaller.
The times she cried,
closer to nothing than something.
I imagine if she could tell me anything,
she might not tell me anything at all,
Herself knowing the light
at the end of every dark road,
the length that gives it meaning,
the darkness that intensifies the light.