Three things I don’t like are poems about foreign travel, poems about writing poems, and poems with foreign words. So here’s a poem about foreign travel and the writing of poems, using a foreign word. (Coquelicots are poppies.)

With the photo store’s machine, old photos look good.

You can zoom in and crop on the image. It will preserve

what’s curled or losing emulsion. I copied a few for my mother;

she wanted help remembering her dead. Grandparents pose

as though waiting to be deported. The images fade

like memories, dimmer each year.

I never take pictures, don’t like imposing a camera

on what I do or watch. A whole year in Africa, I shot

one roll of film. Maybe I miss a lot. Sandy insisted we take

pictures of our trip to France. It was my idea to have her pose

in a field of poppies. That’s why we have her in her flowered dress,

surrounded by Impressionist coquelicots.


Instead of photos I rely on a mental album, with sections

for good and bad reminders. The images fade but the feelings

remain, and no one grows old. There are words, too,

that capture time better than chemicals or pixels.

Some day I may write about a smiling face in the pink dusk

of a French field of coquelicots.



One comment

  1. I know that annoying feeling of a camera getting in the way of experience when traveling. but I’m so glad for some of the pictures I have.

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