portion of the artwork for Robert Beveridge's poem

Sepia
Robert Beveridge

My memories turn brown
at the edges, photographs
left too long in the sun
or printed on the wrong paper.
Some are preserved, locked away
in cedar chests, never again seen.
It is only the finest
that stand up to constant
scrutiny, the burden of life
without albums, available
at a moment’s notice.

I have a snapshot of a dinner party
the music too loud for conversation.
It is blurred, almost featureless.
I can see a twist of hair,
the sparkle of dim light
reflected in eyes that smile
comfort across a table.

Another, far clearer,
my fingers on your arm
as I stand behind you
in the gallery, the smell
of your hair in my nose
and the taste of your lips
still fresh on my tongue.
I have stared at it,
handled it for hours on end,
and only faint traces of age
touch it with me.

Clearest of all, my love,
a dim picture—not with age
but lit by candles. The full,
too-short night, the revelation
of bodies. Playful exploration
on the way to painful ecstasy
that joy that, once known, is all.

So much that has happened since
is crooked, worn, like an old valise
that once held a mountain of candy.
No fog, no matter how recent
obscures my vision of you.

My favorite image, the one
that haunts me most, is a basement
book sale, a skipped conference,
the childlike pleasure
of spontaneity. Your head is bent
over a table of novels, fingers
trail over spines
with the concentration you give
to all worthwhile pursuits.
Your hair trails dark creeks
over the shoulders and back
of your white sweater.
I, crouched, look up at you forever.


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FRiGG: A Magazine of Fiction and Poetry | Issue 51 | Spring/Summer 2018