The Poetry Daily today owes gratitude to Traci York ( for striking the flint in the tinderbox of my imagination this morning. Her Throwback Thursday blog showed scanned old family photos. That was the nudge I needed to start the poetry practice. Thanks, Traci! And while her digital photo share has captions the montage below was deliberately left uncaptioned. My own family’s photos lived in several boxes on my mother’s closet shelf. The daughter of a studio photographer and granddaughter of an Atlantic City Boardwalk photographer in the first decade of the 20th century, she treasured every print that came her way. The family archive is now with my sister.


It's not the same looking at an album
or the curated and framed photographs,
those serried ranks of winsome cherubim,
ancestral narrative choreographed.
It's a self-conscious display, the public
faces, a crafted story lines the hall.
Like photo stills. Almost cinematic,
starring roles in someone's life after all.

Here is the shoebox full of random snaps.
The Kodachrome prints mixed up with old ones
taken with the Box Brownie overlap -
uniformed poses of war veterans,
early 20th century studio
portraits of grandparents when they were beaus.
Boxed up, they spend an afterlife all muddled,
affections, separations - take your pick.
Stories dismantled without subtitles.
We perservere to record - click! click! click!
Once we were happy and all in accord.
Here is the memory to keep us moored.

Copyright © 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved.

Featured photo Photo by Jakob Owens on Unsplash