Revived by a living picture

Picture frame beckons the ageing patriarch
From a kindly, obliging wall
Spring, summer and fall
To accommodate a smiling handsome man
Snapped in a momentary span.


What knowledge played in that pose?
Jutting elbow, a leg wrapped across
Regal bearing of a prominent nose
Images that turn a snapshot
Into a brimming thought.


I see a dashing groom
Hardly thirty in stallion prime
All poised to assume
Implicit duties of a social kind
In a private expectant room.


Or a girl’s indulgent father
Whose provident arms slackened
As her breasts rounded
Before he walked her
Down the aisle one day.


The casket smirks, everything is mine
Memory and vision, the wall clock’s chime
Seed to cradle, altar and race
All trapped in the shudder
Of midnight’s heaving embrace.


Picture and frame hold
Revived in sentient footsteps
Resonant voices of old
Till grief melts and passes
In the picture of a man in glasses.


The patriarch smiles from his inviolate frame
He has done his part
Son or paramour
Progeny and progenitor
Free of the wheelwright and his art.


Lend me your smile, O father
One that can tame a tragedy
Or a withering loss
Distilled in a living picture
Searing separation and dross.

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