Their noses share an awkward shape,
both too large for their faces, drooping
low and out, the crests aiming down
toward each other's chest.
My mother holds her youth and beauty
tight as a red and white bouquet in her hands.
Her smoky white veil falls behind her shoulders
and down her back, folding gently like summer curtains.
It wasn't love in her eyes; she's admitted before.
but here, anxious and barely 28 years old,
she wears hope on the smile reaching across her cheeks.
Perhaps it was a single thought, a flicker
of a candle's teardrop flame: Maybe
I will love him forever. And though
it was a lie, here it forced an affection
that pushed long black lashes apart,
and each hazel iris gleamed
with momentary faith, light flooding
the sudden click of a 1/100 shutter speed.
My father looks like another man.
He's consumed by fervent confidence and swagger,
built upon conviction and certainty.
He ought to have a big wet rose in his teeth,
and a big wet bottle clenched in his fist.
His shoulders, broad and rigid, push his chest
toward my mother's fragile collar bones.
His gaze meets hers, and he admits a stubborn smirk,
the same one his father had wielded
in an Army portrait 30-some years before
—that you could see on me now, as well.
This moment is dishonest,
those candid smiles were sudden
and fleeting, a bolt of lightning
splitting the sky in half.
But it's captured here, forever.
Two wild hearts in a moment
of sincerity, toeing a wire
they'd come to learn they
could never balance upon.
But I caress this photo some nights
slowly with my thumb,
knowing neither is my mother
nor my father, but two kids,
who might just hold on
when they're swallowed whole
and buried under rubble and silt
of all the world crashing down.