Analysis: Group Portrait, Hand Coloured

Image result for vintage family portrait 1915 teenage boy with soccer ball little daughter with top

The taller man, thin, has lines from patrician nose
to stern mouth. Eyes alert for any nuisance,
slight greying of sideburns, neatly clipped.
Ears close to head, as if by military command.
His coat is dark grey, fitted to the body. Shirt, high collared,
set off by necktie of silver silk. Waistcoat vested in stripes of grey
and black. Elbow crooked, posture straight.
Evidence of a watch (simple gold chain hooked from
vest pocket belt loop), a family heirloom.

The next man is young & hefty, built like a soccer player.
Hair parted down the middle, a Sheik. Eyes glint,
ladies’ man, man’s man. Shoulders strain against vest seams.
He hasn’t bothered with a jacket, it would sear in this
summer’s heat. That is his glass on the oval table,
a slice of lemon in gin, cut glass prisms shine.
He seems ready to spring forward, to enlist at once
upon hearing Call to Country.­

Woman, seated in wing-backed chair of burgundy velvet.
Complicated lace circlet haloes her braid-crownéd head.
Square-jawed, like her son, she stares to the side
(a momentary wish to escape the photographer’s record)
Small hands clasp together, monograph in delicate blue
barely visible on the lower corner of a wispy handkerchief: M
The suit is lamb shanked at the sleeves, skirt long,
feet invisible underneath. She will not stray, despite
unrelenting desires. Sitting on the rug beside her is
a small dog, Cocker mix, laughing into eternity.

The little girl, recently entering her seventh year, has
hair plaited so severely that she frowns at
tense loops, tied up with dark blue bows.
She stands next to the chair, elbow leaning
on a richly padded arm, head tilted toward her mother.

Her skirts are full, petticoats flounced with embroidery.
In her right hand is a toy, a spinning top, circled
with gold, an H.G. Wells space ship she dreams
of riding on cricket sounding nights in her solemn bed.

She will not be still long. It is 1915 & this child
will grow into an educated woman. Her many
scrapbooks fill with photographs & poste cartes
from Cairo, Ethiopia, Arles, St. Petersburg,
Rio & the Grand Canyon. Letters in sharp
fountain-penned script address her by nick name:
Peach! Missed you in Pah-Ree! Hurry Home!”
and “With deep sorrow, we join you in mourning
the death of your belovéd brother,
heroic pilot in the War to End All Wars.”

Yet she will live to see other wars & live long
enough to pass into another Century, riding
with nephews & nieces (she would never
have children of her own) in faster & faster
moving cars.
She thinks “Slow down,” as years pass;
but the pocket watch left
her by that boisterous, dear brother ticks
menacingly, so she shuts it into the locked
center drawer of a walnut chest built for her
by a fond Admirer. His rough hands planed
wood into sweet curves. He told her it was
shaped like her body, round & lovely.

Watch lies covered by a wispy handkerchief,
M nearly white with age, inner wheels
sleek gold, a hummingbird’s heartbeat.

I will lie down for a few minutes before dinner,”
she thinks but just then her spirit gently shifts
(sliver of ice moving over a slice of lemon)
& she floats over the roof of the family home;
swiftly into lavender twilight,
gold at the horizon from a sighing autumnal sun.

previously published in Awakenings Review


Author: dixiewriter

Due to my father's job as an explorer/cartographer, my family moved 48 times before I turned 13. We lived where Dad worked: on mountain tops (in park ranger cabins), in deserts, swamps, along coastlines from Maine to Key West & other wild places. My father mapped parts of Antarctica, living there for 8 months in 1961-62. A mountain peak & a glacier are named after him (William C. Elder, USGS) As an adult, I helped Lars Eric Lindblad (then president of World Wildlife) find out about the migration path of Silverback gorillas (from Tanzania into Kenya). On my information, he chose to move Lindblad Travel's photographic safari camps to accommodate these wonderful creatures. I got a Jimmy Carter grant to teach after I graduated from Madison College. Grantees had to sign up to teach for at least a year in a severely impoverished school anywhere in America. I taught for 3 & 1/2 years in SW Virginia near Bluegrass Central (Galax, VA). I taught 7th-9th grade English, Drama, Journalism. I was the forensics coach. Moved to Connecticut & worked for Lars Lindblad, typing up the manuscript for his autobiography, working with Liz & John Fuller on this book. (They co-wrote "Ghost of Flight 415" & other books about unusual phenomenon. Moved to Colorado in 1982. Worked as "gal friday" for 12 detectives at the Boulder Police Dept. Set up files for DA to use in court amongst other things. Then at a law firm. Next, CU/Boulder for 10 years. At CU, workers could take a free course each semester. So I did 5 Master's levels courses in special ed' & many in creative writing/history/religion & other subjects at the Master's level. I taught "Drama for the Disabled" in Boulder, CO after the teacher had to quit due to health issues. It was wonderful! My last 7 years working, I helped adults/teens/children with various brain differences such as autism. I was diagnosed at age 45 with 3 types of seizures, manic depression (atypical, rarely depressions, mostly manias), OCD & PTSD. At age 67 (!!) this diagnosis was changed. The manias are most likely due to temporal lobe "disturbance." The other symptoms are due to "high functioning" autism or Asperger's. Shock!! I do Tai Chi 3x/day which helps me to calm down. My husband & I work out at a gym 3-5 times/week for balance mostly but also weight training, running etc. We climb the beautiful Rocky Mountain High places (like Long's Peak & Maroon Bells) in summertime/autumn. We love archaeology, so when we travel, it's in order to discover ancient sites. My husband is an actor with a "day job." He has performed in shows with Zero Mostel (Fiddler on the Roof, the road show), Dick van Dyke (Diagnosis Murder), Firesign Theatre/John Goodman/Annette Bening et al. (Wizard of Oz/radio show) & many other wonderful people since age 14. We have traveled to: Iceland, Scotland (twice), Germany (3 times to visit friends), Ireland & fascinating places in America. We usually spend a month when we travel. So we go about every 5-6 years. Otherwise, we stay at home in a town in Colorado, attending Poetry sessions, working in local theater, enjoying our shelter rescue cats, writing, painting & dancing.

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