A piece of your soul
Is stolen with each photograph taken
Reflecting back over the years,
Looking at her tortured face
In that static image,
I wonder. I hope not, for my sake.
Hard to contemplate so many stolen moments
Pieces of others’ lives captured
By my lenses, the films’ emulsion
Now sitting in dust covered albums, yellowed envelopes and crooked frames
She stood hunched over, frozen
Jaw clenched and hands knitted,
Holding or hugging herself
Against her chill that July.
Paralyzed by her private pain
Writ large there in public, on the Mall
Countless others had and have since
Faced their own demons
In that monument’s polished black marble
(I have seen them)
For twenty minutes or a little less
I watched her pilgrimage, her prayer
A stranger motionless that stopped me
That held my attention
And the camera’s gaze before me.
Me a voyeur, an intruder, an unwelcome confidant.
She stood too near the names
To turn away;
But her feet and legs
Couldn’t carry her slight frame forward
To touch the past
The walkway before her still,
I imagine, never to be breached.