You remember how the lens squeezed
unimportant details into stillness:
the essential trail of rain down glass,
the plummet of autumn-dead leaves,
your grandfather’s last blink when
the breath moved on.
Your startled hands compressed
the shutter when you realized: this is it,
this is the last movement he will take
away from the silent fall of morphine,
beyond the soft gasp of the nurse,
past the sick, slow thud of your heart
moving in the luminous silence.
I wrote this in 2005 after I spoke with my mother about my grandmother’s death. It is not autobiographical, yet it is in the way that poems draw truth from real experiences. I’ve always found that odd about writing. It’s the title poem from my first chapbook, “How to photograph the heart,” (The Lives You Touch Publications).