28 January 2014

Middle Name

The photograph is black and white
and it's snowing, so I don't know the color
of her hair, her dress, the blanket
I'm wrapped in—2 days old—a close-up,
her eyes cast down, my mother's
best friend, my namesake Louise,
the third woman to hold me, the first
being an anonymous nurse, probably
older than my young mother
in the month of January, in the year
1952, probably dead now, her bones
naked beneath the ground. And Louise,
who was she, the woman who held
the small, warm engine of my body,
the one my mother loved enough
to give me her name, to find a camera
and take this photograph, Louise,
keeper of my mother's secrets and dreams,
her arm arced beneath me, her fingers
pinching the wool brim of my cap
to shield my eyes from the snow, the cold,
holding me so tight and close
she could be mistaken for a mother,
this friend who disappeared into
the past, whose scent I breathed in,
whose breast I turned to, the names
of saints carved into the stone arch
of the church behind her, snow
on the roof, the sky white, her scarf
might be yellow, it might be blue.

~Dorianne Laux

Posted with the author's permission

Dorianne Laux

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