Last Photograph with my Sister
I don’t know why this photo, the last that
we took together, is muted in grays and sepias,
as if that broad West Coast sunlight was somehow
being filtered through an antique lampshade
or a scrap of newsprint held up to window glass.
You look so small on the bench beside me,
your bird wing shoulders folding in on themselves,
your kind face hovering somewhere between
a smile and a vague sense of surprise.
Your matchstick legs could barely hold you up,
not for long, your balance swimming
in and out like some uncertain dance partner,
seemingly at random. Yet you insisted on
walking with me through Chinatown, buying
a hand-knit sweater and chocolates for your niece,
those red paper lanterns suspended across
every street, as if the streets themselves,
narrow and all but directionless, were merely
an afterthought. You insisted, too, on that
enormous Christmas tree that lit up the wharf,
sea lions barking with hunger, as always,
for all to hear, each blubbery mound and voice
calling out, indecipherable from the next.
We are waiting, in this moment, for one last
taxi to the airport, as ordinary as that.
But the sun was much warmer than it looks,
the palm trees behind us alive and gently swaying,
while the snow back home — three feet of it —
was a few short hours away. I can’t blame you
for not missing it, not missing it at all.
by Greg Watson
Editor’s Note: Some poems speak of grief with such honestly that the reader can’t help but understand that loss is truly a universal emotion.
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