From the Silver Mines
Here, in this photo, I turn and look back,
my hair blown unnaturally to one side,
my mouth half open, maybe in surprise,
or maybe saying something best unsaid.
The innocence of being caught off-guard
is heightened by a sense of what escaped:
the only evidence of words, a ghost,
a sheet of condensed breath torn from my lips.
I think of others who looked back: Lotís wife,
and Orpheus, who had so much at stakeó
how carelessly they must have turned and glanced,
looking like this before the shock set in.
And those who found Medusa over their shoulder,
gazed into her eyes, her sinister stars,
and saw themselves, into their wishes, saw
their future as a past and hardened to stone.
How quietly regret sneaks up behind us,
how slowly it accumulates, like salt,
or silver used to make a photograph
of someone, somewhere I would rather be.
Michael T. Young
Transcriptions of Daylight, Rattapallax Press,
© 2000; originally printed in The Hollins Critic.
Reprinted by permission of the author.