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I Met My Grandmother Through a Photograph

She is holding me right after I was born,
shortly before she died.
Everything I know about her is from pictures,
and there’s not many of those
because my grandfather took after Napoleon
in many ways and burned all evidence
of my grandmother’s existence
after her unwilling exit from his life.
She was beautiful,
and sometimes I think I miss her more
because I never got to bake pies
with her on Sunday
or walk down to the lake behind their house,
fish biting our toes in the frigid March water.

My favorite picture of her is at
Uncle Kevin’s wedding,
a Greek Orthodox affair where
my dad held a crown above Kevin’s head
for the entire ceremony and my cousin Dawn
was entrusted with the plaque of an unknown saint,
the satin bow in her hair contrasting
with the velvet decorations surrounding her.
My grandmother is in the narthex after the ceremony,
the unplanned subject of a photographer’s portrait
even though she is almost out of the frame
patiently waiting for her newly married son.

Her jade suit glows in the sun’s rays.
An explosion of yellow flowers from graceful hands
lie comfortably against her chest.
Auburn hair arranged in Marilyn Monroe style
is accentuated by her emerald and gold necklace.
No one is looking at her, my beautiful grandmother,
Uncle Jim stares toward the altar, while my dad’s gaze
is aimed at the flowers just in front of her.

The nameless relatives in the background
are whispering secrets into cupped hands,
unaware of her presence. And in the next instant
she will be congratulating the bride and groom,
searching for my grandfather in the crowd,
looking forward to taking off her uncomfortable shoes,
singing Ave Maria quietly off-tune
in the soft November air,
where a photograph comes to life.