A Summer Garden
by Louise Gluck
Several weeks ago I discovered a photograph of my mother
sitting in the sun, her face flushed as with achievement or triumph.
The sun was shining. The dogs
were sleeping at her feet where time was also sleeping,
calm and unmoving as in all photographs.
I wiped the dust from my mother’s face.
Indeed, dust covered everything; it seemed to me the persistent
haze of nostalgia that protects all relics of childhood.
In the background, an assortment of park furniture, trees and shrubbery.
The sun moved lower in the sky, the shadows lengthened and darkened.
The more dust I removed, the more these shadows grew.
Summer arrived. The children
leaned over the rose border, their shadows
merging with the shadows of the roses.
A word came into my head, referring
to this shifting and changing, these erasures
that were now obvious—
it appeared, and as quickly vanished.
Was it blindness or darkness, peril, confusion?
Summer arrived, then autumn. The leaves turning,
the children bright spots in a mash of bronze and sienna.