The photos arrive in the mail.
Each sister sends one newly found
so I can see our mother when
she was young then matronly,
standing on the hospital's lawn.
They do it to give me history,
to impress in my memory her
Kodachrome vitality. Arranging
a chronology of missed years,
they dig for bones in cartons
drawers and cardboard albums.
I reconstruct in black and white,
in color. She is almost solid, fleshed
with each new fragment: the infant
in her arms, the sisters holding
her arms as she leaves the hospital.
Here her smile is less generous, more
tentative, her brows narrowed.
This must have been just after
the tumor blossomed, before
she lived from bottles and in charts.
Hair by muscle, I build the body
under which my girlhood lies,
below the carved stone. From beneath
red clay, anthropologists lift femur
and fibula, carefully dust, arrange the ribs
of what lived, moved and was buried. -- S.K.