artwork: ralph murre
1942 Snapshot of my Father
by Donna Hilbert
He could be my child,
this boy at seventeen,
centered in front of a palm tree
in the parkway
of his sister’s yard.
This motherless kid,
in a borrowed sports coat
and slacks that fold
too deeply over his shoes.
His curly hair is combed back.
His lips part in an almost grin.
I know the history of this picture:
how he came to
to find work. California
How he dug ditches, riveted metal,
to marry his girl Oklahoma
before he turned eighteen. Nothing
to remark about, given the war.
And I know the life that followed:
the guns hidden in chimneys, bruises
under scarves, how the half-smile
concealed a boozy rage. Still,
it moves me:
how he glistens in this picture,
the deep crease of his slacks,
his boyish curls.
~ previously published in Mansions (Event Horizon Press)