The photographer’s canoe spreads out,
dominates a whole corner of the frame.
Up ahead, a man in a striped tie
and two puzzled others barely canoe
a different canoe, as if to say
keep still; sure as shit the river won’t.

Two women in coats are frozen,
squinting in afternoon glare. A lurching
shadow spoils the foreground as they
prepare goodbyes. They linger in a still
embrace sufficient for exposure, as if to say
this world is so cold (the coats)
and so full of fear. 

Three children pose huddled
in the yard but mostly end up blurred
in firm mid-century stasis. The jagged
shadow also creeps towards them
as if to say there is no one
who will protect you in time.

The way you hug the edge
of this photograph suggests
someone you loved once
was in it. Parts of you, even,
are missing, as if to say
only certain parts of me are here.

Patrick Williams is a poet and academic librarian living in Central New York. His work appears in publications including
The Metric3:AM MagazineHeavy Feather ReviewThe Mackinac, and Sundog Lit. He is the editor of Really System, a journal of poetry and extensible poetics.

Photo credit: Dan Perez de la Garza

Photo credit: Dan Perez de la Garza