Friday, June 12, 2015

Photos of Mimi

Here's a poem I just re-discovered. It was written on my daughter's birthday when she was in Japan.

I share it with you with humility and joy.


The house is full of pictures of her.
In some of them, she is a tiny, chubby baby.
In others, she is a little girl possessed.
In one she gains speed, running
down a hill in front of my father's house,
her tongue out, her blonde hair flying,
her small arms churning
like the wind.
In another, taken the same day,
she is solemn, not looking at the camera,
considering something out of the frame,
unsmiling, gazing at the future, perhaps.

She grows through the pictures—though they are random
on the walls and shelves, so she doesn't grow evenly.
A beautiful, awkward teen, smiling in spite of braces,
her jeans decorated in ink, a hole at the knees,
her shoes half-tied, embarrassed, I think, by the camera.
There is a sagging Jack-O-Lantern at her side,
smiling a smile as crooked as her own.

A whole group pictures when she was finishing
high school—a lovely,, wistful, long-haired girl
exploding gracefully into life and what comes next.

I love the photo from her college graduation,
the four of us, this little family, her brother posing,
Mimi—short-hair and sun-glasses—smiling.
Just the four of us, a tiny clan, so different and distinct,
frozen in time on a mountain in Vermont, timeless, eternal.

I walked around the house today, looking for her visage--
bride's maid at Josh's wedding, clowning in a hotel doorway,
holding one niece or another with her boyfriend
(she natural, laughing, Morgan content on her lap,
Tim is a bit anxious and Emma is pulling away from him),
sitting on our back deck at an age I can't remember
when her hair was a color not found in nature,
and she is, as always glancing away from the camera,
playing on the beach as a toddler, sandy, nude,
hands in the sand, staring backward through her legs
(a photo a camera shy person would hate later on!)

I made my circuit, stopping before each photograph,
amazed at the memories that leaped out of the frames
and enthralled me.
Amazed more that such a beautiful child and woman
could have lived with me so long
and left imprints on my heart so deep.

She is half-a-world away.
In a land I can only faintly imagine.
I will not talk with her today—her nativity day.
I cannot even remember, as I gaze at photos,
if it is today or tomorrow in Japan.
Or yesterday.

Then there is the photo I love most.
It is pinned to the cork board beside my desk,
where I sit and write.

She is framed in a glass doorway. Her hair is long.
I can't remember how old she way—in college, perhaps--
and beyond the door you see, fully lit, dunes of Nantucket.
Mimi is in shadow, almost a silhouette cut from dark paper,
in full profile. Only the back of her hair is in sunlight,
shining, translucent, moving in the wind.

I love that picture because it is Mimi stepping through the
Door of Life, moving away from the infant shots,
the little girl, the teenaged child,
moving into life beyond me...half a world away.
All grown and still, all new....

jgb/July 21, 2008

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some ponderings by an aging white man who is an Episcopal priest in Connecticut. Now retired but still working and still wondering what it all means...all of it.