In the photo we see the boys, your brothers
on your right and your left and you in the middle, the child
your parents would nearly forget. You're all three
wearing cowboy suits with holsters and hats to match. And you
have a special star that says it was your birthday. Johnny
and Jeff are killing each other with pistols
and you are standing between them, smiling a little,
the kid who needs to be saved. You know, sometimes I want
to go in there and take you, and
raise you as my only child. But it's 1955 and I'm not
in the picture yet. I wonder
if any one could have seen into the future,
imagined the harm that would come
when you'd grow up into men. Maybe you did.
Maybe that's why you're looking straight into the camera, maybe
that's why you're the only one not handling a weapon.
Laura Shearer's poems have appeared in Artemis and The Hampden-Sydney Poetry Review. She teaches English at the Village Community School, and lives in Morningside Heights.