Rochelle Jewell Shapiro: "Double Exposure"




Your mother forgets to turn the film winder

and there you are, seven, sipping milk 

through a straw, while your father 

floats over the table, transparent 

as your glass, looking ghostly

as when he visited you at St. Joseph’s,

and you, still rumble-breathed 

from double pneumonia, 

peered out at him 

through the plastic flaps

of your oxygen tent. 

Would he close his grocery

where he worked fourteen hours a day, 

six days a week, half a day on Sunday,

to see you, his third daughter? Or did 

you wish for him so hard that his soul

lifted out of his aproned body

while he sliced Swiss cheese

or speared pickles from the barrel

and drifted to you in a cloud?

Do you really see him now, 

over sixty years later, walking

through your front door, unzipping

his dark blue jacket, taking off

his gray felt hat, bending

to remove his shoes with a sigh. 

Do you really hear him call out, 

“I’m home.”


Rochelle Jewell Shapiro's novel, Miriam The Medium (Simon & Schuster, 2004), was nominated for the Harold U. Ribelow Award. Her short story collection, What I Wish You'd Told Me, was published by Shebooks in 2014. Her poetry, short stories, and essays have appeared or are forthcoming in many literary magazines such as Mudfish, Westview, Iowa Review, Santa Fe Literary Review, Stand, Amarillo Bay, Los Angeles Review, Louisville Review, Pennsylvania English, Rio Grande Review, Licking River Review, Peregrine, Gulf Coast, and Willow Review. She currently teaches writing at UCLA Extension.