Chance Stars (Written March 16, 2018)

Chance Stars

To get them set up the way she wants
takes forever.
The gaps in her thinking are like
the gaps in clouds, through which

Chance stars appear briefly, and are gone.
It’s no use
trying to get them back. Might as well
try to stop the earth from rotating.
Some last longer than others,

For example, her father, who stands out
most brightly,
with his happy smile, sitting in a lawn chair
at the cabin by the lake, dressed in
high leather boots, white trousers,

A black cardigan, and an old fedora,
with his fishing license
stuck to the hat band. But she forgets
the names of my father and my mother,
shown together on the middle shelf,

In the early days of their marriage,
dressed shabbily,
but happy looking, in love.
She takes down the photo of my son
and myself on the streets of Philadelphia,

The year he graduated from Wharton,
gives it a dusting,
and puts it back. She does the same
with the photo of my daughter,
taken at the time of her graduation

From high school, before she went away
to university
and disappeared from my life.
She remembers her name but not
where the photo was taken.

On the bottom shelf, to the right of center,
her own daughter
sits in a folding chair, some forty years ago,
with her husband in a chair next to her,
and their two children, one sitting, one standing,

In sturdy galvanized-zinc tubs,
and behind them
a picket fence painted brown, and
thick maple trees providing ample shade.

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