Photo of Us On the Cottage Front Porch

Photo of Us On the Cottage Front Porch

 

We were there then, weren’t we—

everything we turned out to be. I can see

signs, even though we were still inside

ourselves, thinking we could hide.

 

Cousin Alan hoists tiny barbells, eyes

rolled up in his head, showing only whites:

Look at me! Roger, open-faced but wry

half smile. Cousin Dennis, naked sprite

 

in the foreground, swimsuit hidden, poised

as if to take off, and did: all that trouble—

prison, palsy, death. Aunt Cleone, employed

happily being the mother, seated, of boys.

 

And me, standing, in striped halter, arms

behind my back, watching Alan bemusedly

I use that word because it charms me,

though back then I wouldn’t have agreed.

 

I did think later—do think—the word

had always been there, and my sister has been

beside me, always, smiling nervously,

tightly holding a left-hand finger within

 

the right’s grip. She had reason to fear,

the tumor already planted in her brain. All

of us look skinny enough to disappear,

tightly grouped off-center, as if to forestall

 

our own sliding to the slick white edge.