Abuela

In the center of the wall is a picture of you

in white, dress and veil fading in sunlight,

gathered flowers at your waist: a spray of violets

folded over itself -- wilted; beads trapped in hair, falling.

 

Above, children cup you in your chair:

seven stand around you, smiling,

though left there is an empty space

for the two born still, one whose breath stilled,

 

and the one whose insides flowered out,

burst like a valentine balloon caught

in a snapshot at its rare implosion: a memory

trapped in the cellophane leaves of an album.

 

Other frames spread from the center, hinged

to cracking plaster: glass splitting, mats molting

and grey with volcanic ash, wood in need of dusting

or repair.  All moments that confine

 

a husband who left early, a mother

who lived in, aunts who imitate all their daughters;

blonde daughters-in-law, twelve grandchildren,

babies teetering on swollen knees. And you,

 

centered in a family

folded over itself,

gathered at your waist.

 

Christina Salme Ruiz