Dust, and yet, not dust
after a photo of Colette, "Reve d'Egypte."
All month, I watched one woman's face, caught her glance
because her eyes followed me around this small room. Grainy
in black-and-white, the image is so dated there can be no doubt:
a camera clicked and caught this shot a long lifetime ago.
Even not knowing whose it was, I was still convinced that face would age
but perhaps didn't if the subject died young. Those haunted eyes
developed cataracts or maybe none, before they closed, one final time.
Never again could the sloe eyes send a message to the mind
inside the skull hidden beneath the tousled curls. Yet, here she is still,
staring at me the way she peered from the calendar in March last year,
and just the way she mesmerized a photographer in 1907. A picture
is protection from death's erasure of a single day.
What more do you need, Colette? The life you led, the words you left,
and now this other kind of immortality.
Annie Stenzel was born in Illinois, but has lived on both coasts of the U.S. and on other continents at various times in her life. Her booklength collection is The First Home Air After Absence (Big Table Publishing, 2017). Her poems appear in print and online journals in the U.S. and the U.K., from Ambit to Willawaw Journal with stops at Chestnut Review, Gargoyle, Gone Lawn, On the Seawall, Psaltery & Lyre, right hand pointing, Stirring, The Ekphrastic Review, and The Lake, among others. A poetry editor for the online journals West Trestle Review and right hand pointing, she lives within sight of the San Francisco Bay. For more, see anniestenzel.com.