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

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