Polaroid

When I leaf through the poetry book
from the secondhand shop,
the Polaroid photo falls into my hand.

The young man in the foreground has curly
blond hair, a white shirt, and black khakis.
His arm is raised to the camera at his eye.

His gaze is on the young woman,
as dark-haired as he is blond, as olive-skinned
as he is fair, in a white dress gathered to her neck,

her tanned shoulders bare, her hair
draping soft around her face
and down to her shoulder.

She sits side-saddle, long legs crossed
at the ankle, espadrilles braced
against the black cold barrel of a cannon.

It's a summer afternoon, maybe four o'clock,
the light slanting in from the west. Just over
the ramparts, the wide horizon of the river.

He swings her down and they wait
for the Polaroid with his best friend, the one
who took the photo, and the three of them

look for a coffee shop before they drive
back to the City. And she keeps the photo in
the poetry book he gives her for their anniversary.

When she moves out, she drops the book
off at the library sale for homeless vets.
She's forgotten the photo, pressed between the poems,

but she remembers that afternoon, the soft,
creamy light, the stiff cold muscle of the cannon,
and the one who took the Polaroid.

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