I am surrounded by the dead.
In sepia formality they hang
from the scaffold of the picture rail:
a great uncle killed at Loos
proud in his kilt
before the steamer's sad farewell;
his brother who survived
with a whole body
and forty years of a broken mind;
in mourning black forever;
my parents' wedding—
the groom alive with hope,
proud before an empire's collapse—
my mother at eighteen
between giggling sisters,
beautifully shy before the certainty of years.
All are gone,
only the bride's magnificent veil
in an attic suitcase.
Yet still they live
within the walls of my imperfect memory,
and watch with timeless eyes
my life's amorphous dream unfold.
Who will I look down upon
when I am clay and dust
and stoic, stand and stare
from far behind some dusty pane?