FAMILY PHOTOS: WAITSBURG, WASHINGTON, 1910
In the photo, eight Belgians have harrowed the field
smooth as a calm lake. Great-grandfather, still young,
guides the team, riding a gray behind them.
In the next one, Wilfred, my grandfather, age 12,
who died from a sad marriage,
long before the valve gave out on his heart,
stands on top of a mare’s back
like an acrobat in the circus.
The last picture has faded brown.
Near supper time, they are on the front porch
of a rundown homesteader’s shack,
while their two story farmhouse
is being built next door.
Clement and Sadie are both holding cats,
while Wilfred sits beside them
with his arms around a border collie
Even though their faces are not clear,
it is easy to tell from their body language
that they are happy to be a family,
even though they don’t know
that two World Wars and The Great Depression
will occur, or at 91, Clement will be walking with me,
a great-grandson, and he will smile,
smelling the freshly plowed earth.
Mark Thalman is the author of Catching the Limit, Fairweather Books (2009). His poetry has been widely published for four decades. His work has appeared in Carolina Quarterly, CutBank, Pedestal Magazine, and Verse Daily among others.