These are the days you prayed for,
your friends and the people who share your blood
intact and eternal,
flat in the frame of the machine.
Look at the pictures long enough
and you’ll swear you were actually there,
you’ll remember it all—
the bride, the children, the tree, the beach,
the salt grass of that chosen landscape wet everywhere
except underneath the broad-branched tree
where the people and the cameras could go
because only there was it safely, exceptionally dry.
How wrong the aboriginals were about souls—
it’s the picture that gives you a soul.
And the children who were fussed over that day
because they’d grown so much since the last time
they were seen—
of course, it takes great
distance to detect this growth,
those who live with it everyday
are blinded by it.
The children had to be reminded
after the beach to wash their bare feet
under the tap; they couldn’t keep the beach.
Children have to be checked for this—
What can be kept is shell or bone.
What still has insides isn’t ready to be kept.
The photographer knows this: occasions can be claimed
only when they’ve been hollowed out,
when they’ve lost their fingerprints.
As for the bride, she looks like any bride,
like a cross between a ghost and a cake—
what is a bride, anyway, that a girl can be
turned into one every day?
The idea is that the earlier girl just disappeared;
everyone here is an accomplice in her vanishing.
Fine planet, the children
might be thinking as they pass the seashell,
making it for a moment
a part of the ear.
you can almost believe
something still lives there.