There are no children in the picture,
just my father proud in military khaki,
and my mother standing staunchly beside him,
her smile stifled half-way…by concern I expect.
But no children.
No three daughters, spaced four years, then two years apart.
And certainly no son, no unexpected pregnancy,
six years beyond the last.
This is a photograph of newlyweds.
It’s not a snapshot of everything going forward.
As much as I study the faces, the way they carry themselves,
I see no births, no growing family.
There are no children in the picture
but no deaths either.
Not of the two in bright color.
Not of those three daughters.
There’s no indication that I am all that is left
of the family I was born into.
They’re just a couple starting out,
one about to risk his life in overseas combat,
the other consigned to an anxious waiting game at home.
But they survived.
They struggled but made do.
They housed, fed, nurtured, all four of us.
Gone now yes, like my three sisters.
But they’re still here, in the old photo album,
ready to resume that pose whenever I open it up
to the page captioned, “Mom and Dad.”
There are no children in the picture.
And I am that child.
John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in New Plains Review, Perceptions and Sanskrit, with upcoming poetry in South Carolina Review, Gargoyle, Owen Wister Review and Louisiana Literature.
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