Bookstore Poem #326. Something about Arizona… (a poem)

Bonus round—written during a poetry workshop this afternoon.

The moment
is a black-and-white photograph
sepia-tone yellowed and grainy
with dark clouds visible
through the windshield
me in my white shirt
with my white blanket
looking back
not quite meeting
the gaze of the lens

I want to say it’s Albuquerque
but I’m sure it’s somewhere in Arizona
on the kind of afternoon
where you’re getting ready
to go to the drive-in
but you have
a few other things
to do first

I am alone in the back
which means
my mother took the photo
but I see no reflection
in either trunk or window

The lighting is more like Kansas
in The Wizard of Oz
but without the tornado

I am calm
I’m in the car
I have my blanket
I have nothing to fear
of the life that’s in front of me

The clouds have dark contours
but that’s as much chemistry
as it is weather

This black-and-white photograph
does not exist—
the moment never happened

But I see it
with a clarity
that dwarfs
real memories of Tucson—
dim, as though they never happened

So, what is real?

(21 July 2018)