The girl who learned to shoplift
from her mother
builds websites for old family photos:
Here is the alcoholic grandfather
and the aunt with pancreatic cancer
and that Christmas everyone posed
with faces as serious as the 19th century.
Digitization as affirmation—
her story will not be stolen.
The archivist’s friend was stabbed
leaving a piano concert at 23.
Her blood slick black in the dim parking lot.
The man moved on to guns
and the archivist nursed
a fear of flickering street lamps.
The child who fled his empty house
for the thrum of the street
stabs a man in prison
but sends his daughter to college
and watches her fall
from an airplane, holds his breath
until her parachute opens. She flies
toward him, a nylon flower
billowing behind her.
The ex-gang member considered
his past a fading tattoo
until old enemies came for his son.
The boy’s headstone shows him stone-faced;
the cursive promises his smile broke
It’s no epiphany,
the forever of death—
so think instead
about the many lives
contained in one life.
The endless branches
of a family tree,
the breaking and the blooming.
Use that pain like a soft
old rag. Polish and pivot.
Bind a wound. Wring it out
and rest and start again.