Delving into the old boxes—
my mother’s left things—
we find the photo
finger worn and faded.  

A riotous background,
maybe California,
all gush and bloom.  

Her hair dark music
flowing thin shoulders.  

Lips plump scarlet
in dazzled excitement.  

She is haloed inside
the hug of a man
whose smile echoes hers.  

He is not our father.  

We pause in her passing,
romanticize a wartime affair,
him not making it home,
she despairing.  

Invent some Romeo
and Juliet narrative
cleaving that paradise.  

Too many questions.
No one left to ask.  

Consider this:
hidden in a jewelry box,
the back of a cluttered closet,
the pocket of an old flannel shirt,  

do we all, in our deeper hymns,
hoard some pondered keep,
some ravished heart
of what might have been?