Aunt Julia’s lover

You giggle & twist your shoulders for the photographer trying to catch your yearbook smile in 1930 – at seventeen your face is an unlocked window in the moonlight, a waltz, a whisper of passion under the smile of a sailor’s arms, alongside your mother’s cherry tree where school days slid off your shoulders – the pearl button falls from your blouse – with your soft voice onto the grass

Somewhere, deep inside a drawer, I have the silver spoon you saved from The Palmer House Hotel – I imagine this tryst,a stolen rendezvous with the sailor – spent holding hands across a linen table, how he must have carefully unfolded the lavender starched napkin onto his lap & later unfolded you under the sheets while you watched a piano playing secrets in his eyes, waiting for the rest of your life to begin in that single afternoon

A husband, a house, a baby carriage, a life that never came true, staring in the mirror, angels at your side – it doesn’t work to close the years in your eyes – you never found the map for lost lovers, children or lives – you died before you were born, in a glass room, darkly

I imagine you now, a ghost of a girl, silky blushing blue as you swan into pale city streets at night, searching for your past life to wander a world of hallways & rooms inside The Palmer House where you & your sailor lover once slept – folding back warm sheets still damp & twisted – you feel a familiar soft sush across your cheek as his fingers touch your face & you look up to see the threshold of his smile, a flashing snap of bright light that lifts & carries you up and into a wedding of forever