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My father disappeared at summer's end,
but after we developed the last film,
I found him staring back from February
safe inside the breezeway's row of windows.

Returning from her walk, my mother stopped
in snow to consider something ordinary,
her husband lost in thought behind the scrim
of potted plants, their out-of-season green

a tropic growing there. She shot the scene
and now he lives in that bright room, cold frame
of memory, where asterisk points of palms
refute the lie that what blooms must also die.

I hold him in my hands, a trick of time
and light to see him still beside geraniums
as he looks past his wife in their front yard
and sees winter's work erasing all of his:

the one long mile of road he'd always scraped
and stark fact of sky that promised more.

Jennifer Key

The Hampden-Sydney Poetry Review

Fall 2017

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