Richard Luftig

Shoebox Filled with Old Photographs

The price card at the flea market
read 50₵ Each so I emptied the contents,
saw how each snapshot crimped
and foxed at the corners had resided

in some long-forgotten album,
passed from attic to attic,
yard-sale to yard-sale,
until they ended up here.

Portraits taken at weddings,
birthdays, the odd lawn croquet
match, stolid men in stolid suits,
starched collars up to their necks.

Women in ankle-length black
dresses as if in perpetual mourning.
Children posing in communion clothes
wishing to be anywhere but here.

Scribbled on the backs of each photo,
in pencil as if no one wanted to take
responsibility for certainty; names,
dates, events, places. A roll-call

of honeymoons, fishing trips,
graduations, picnics,
under an ocean umbrella
or in front of a mountain cabin.

A few at Niagara Falls.
One at the Chicago World’s Fair.
And near the bottom
of the pile, like an orphan

in sepia, a handwritten
message scrawled across
the bottom, written in crayon:
Haven’t a clue who this is

 


Ricard Luftig is a former professor of educational psychology and special education at Miami University in Ohio now residing in California. He is a recipient of the Cincinnati Post-Corbett Foundation Award for Literature and a semi-finalist for the Emily Dickinson Society Award. Richard’s poems have appeared in numerous literary journals in the United States and internationally in Japan, Canada, Australia, Europe, Thailand, Hong Kong and India.