my mother's eyes

I'll always remember my mother's eyes—

the way she squints

even when she smiles, 

like she's angry at the world

for all the pain that pushed its way into her heart.


Did giving birth

to an Elvis impersonator and five strong women

take its toll on her eyes, "windows to her soul?"


Did being married to my father,

a man with a million plans

and a knack for executing them,

one at a time,

put that worry in her eyes?


Did the death of her sister,

shot in the heart by her husband,

in a deer hunting mishap,

work its way into her psyche?


Did she inherit the pain in her eyes

from her mother and father

who brought it with them

from El Greco?”


I see my mother's eyes in my sisters' eyes,

my brother's eyes, and mine.

Sometimes I see her eyes

in the eyes of my children,

my sibling's children,

and her great grandchildren.


My mother's eyes

are an heirloom we carry with us,

a genealogical gem – as hard to penetrate

and precious as the sapphire stone

in her mother's wedding ring,

the one I now wear

every day.

my father's photographs

I am fascinated

by his photographs,

stuffed away in dusty drawers,

waiting for me to pick them up,

one by one.


It's my father,

the photographer,

who draws me there,

as I slip into my parents’ bedroom,

kneel down in prayer pose,

and open the bottom dresser drawer,

where I find myself,

cradled in my mother's arms.


She is smiling back at him

like she'll be there forever--

as though the photograph is enough

to keep them together.