These stored images
belong to you, cracked photos
in albums, preserved
by others against rot, corrosion
drowning, page after page
old faces staring into old cameras.
Your great-great-grandmother from Russia
great-grandfather lost at sea, here
a forgotten cousin, aunt, or drunk uncle
and look, two babies
entering the crossroads
of life’s precious, terrifying moment
between birth and death.
What sound did their voices
make on wind? What stories of the day
did they tell at breakfast
or dinner, if there was dinner—
about how or where
they might have walked
or hidden, loved and cheated
blessed each other, lied
Or told of the day robins
returned to the garden
how arthritis set in for the aunt
what name they gave the too-early baby
who lay in a box on the stove door.
Look carefully at each photo
hold the fragments in your memory
and even under the weight
of their untold lives, let these faces
weave a line, an ancient thread
to lead you home to yourself.