can you tell me who all these people are
where they come from, where they're going?
can you tell me who is sitting and who
is standing, posing for the camera?
we sit on the edge of the bed beside
the window overlooking the lawn, the dunes
the sea, the white curtains fluttering in the salt air.
he takes the 8x10 from my hand and is silent
remembering, recalling the blood ties
lives frozen behind the glass.
a little smile and then these are my parents indicating
with his finger an attractive old couple in the center,
and these are my sisters and brothers—
at this point he gives them names—his parent's children
and the children's children. the newest ones
aren't even in the picture—the children's children's children.
(it is for one of the newest ones
that some of us gather in the big old house
by the sea to celebrate a one year birthday.)
i replace the frame on the dresser
and we leave the quiet of the room
and plunge again into the motion, the heat
the fine noise that humans make
and marvel at the size of this ordinary clan
this wealth in sheer numbers
like the swish, the swoon of the depths, the vast
untamed blueness caressing multitudes of dolphins and fish
we enter into the unbearable, the improbable
the unexplainable wonder of it
the weight that keeps us, presses us
that holds us in place.