A Photograph

Flora Belle Clark

(5 Oct 18626 Jul 1883)

She faces us three-quarters;
her hair pulled back
by a headband;
white, pleated collar tight
about her neck; smooth,
fair skin; pug nose; placid gaze
looking out at something
we shall never see.

No background is visible,
just the whiteness of paper
out of which she arose,
into which she is inevitably descending:
a faint yellow image
like the sheen of oil on water.

She was born in Ohio,
raised in Illinois,
married,
gave birth to a girl in Kansas,
and died in Iowa.
This is what we know.
The sheen of oil on water.

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