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.