Stella’s Children Look Out From a Photo Faded Gold

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 family photo
[Purchase Issue 15 here.]

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).

Stella’s Children Look Out From a Photo Faded Gold

Related Posts

Pine tree at sunset

July on South St. (AEAE)

NICK MAIONE
I open the doors and windows and shut off the lights./ For a while I play tunes on the fiddle / shirtless in my dark house. I love doing this. / For the first time all day I am not at home. / For the first time since the last time / my body is the same size as my flesh.

Beach at dawn

Claudia Prado: Poems from THE BELLY OF THE WHALE

CLAUDIA PRADO
with one strong arm she turns the steering wheel / and hangs the other out the Ford’s window / ashing a cigarette that could set fire to the whole earth / two women crossing a plain changed / by that slant afternoon light / forget the child in the backseat...

On Halloween

VASYL LOZYNSKY
I feel greedy, I have a frog in my throat because of this / expensive beer. I start to ask around, like a detective, / and immediately get some info / from the writer sitting at our table nearby, / whom I got to know just now. / The house of Ashbery has likely mahogany doors...