Friday, June 13, 2014

1942 Snapshot of my Father

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 California to find work.
How he dug ditches, riveted metal,
picked fruit,
returned to Oklahoma to marry his girl
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)