by Michael Williams

Published in Issue No. 19 ~ December, 1998

She could do many things.
She could hide behind a gum tree leaf,
retrieve a lost minute in no time,
bottle up clouds in mason jars,
count the dust motes in a statue’s hand.

She could do many things.
She could understand the speech of birds and dogs,
the barbed jests of cats and turtles,
the spring wisdom of butterflies and snakes.
She knew the winter name of every tree.

She sits on the front porch
between the sun and the stench of a neighbor’s septic tank.
If she wished, she could will the stench to roses;
transform her neighbor of chicken coops and pickup trucks
into a prince. She chooses not to.

She holds the photo in her left hand, looking
at the boy(?) or man(?) astride the saddled horse.
Time and photographs mean nothing to her;
gray rivers murmuring beneath snow and ice.

She sees the boy(?) or man(?) astride the Shetland.
She sees the white house with the black shutter;
she sees the whole hour and day in black and white.
She sees the boy’s smile and the horse with no expression at all.

Holding the photo between her thumb and her forefinger,
she smoothes the wrinkled right corner of the photo.
Edging away from the sunlight, she can do many things but

she cannot reverse the flow of the photograph.

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Michael Williams has been writing and reading poetry for, as he put it, "only two years. Turning 30 was a sort of melodramatic experience for me. I enjoy writing poetry and often my poems are some sort of prism where fantasy and reality waltz, clash, talk at each other and walk the hippogriff."