By NED BALBO
For my adoptive mother Betty and her siblings
No matter where you vanished, you’re vanished still.
Astonished, pointing out your childhood face,
whatever I felt, I know I always will
remember your words: That’s me. The car was full—
Prop Model T: three boys, two girls, your mother’s trace
of a cold smile vanishing…Vanishing still,
that bygone era, pale and possible
in the grim-faced slow-exposure photo’s glaze-
to-gold. What I feel now I always will:
displaced. Gently, you spoke, the silent reel
that carried your memory forward brought no grace—
No matter. When you vanished, you vanished. Still,
I see them through your eyes: Eddie’s motorcycle
blasted in war, Henry’s shell-shocked gaze
(who knows what his captors did?), Al’s loss of will
in a bottle’s presence, living in basement rubble;
even Vera, whose loss refused all solace
… No matter when, they vanished. They’re vanished still.
Whatever you felt, I felt, and always will
Ned Balbo‘s books include Upcycling Paumanok and The Trials of Edgar Poe and Other Poems (awarded the Poets’ Prize and the Donald Justice Poetry Prize). He is the recipient of a 2017 National Endowment for the Arts Literature in Translation Fellowship. Erica Dawson selected his fifth book, 3 Nights of the Perseids, for the 2018 Richard Wilbur Award (University of Evansville Press).