In sepia tones a slender Norwegian girl
stands tall in an oval photo frame,
hand resting on a parlor chair,
auburn hair flowing in waves
down the back of her communion dress.
Hazel eyes sparkle with hope.
Innocence radiates from her smile.

In shades of gray and white
she’s twenty,
auburn hair braided neatly,
coiled atop her head like a crown.
Breasts a little larger, waist a bit thicker,
tug at the seams of her dress.
Clinging to her left hand is a girl of three,
to her right, a boy the age of one.
Hope has dimmed in her eyes.
A half-smile rests on her face.

In faded black and white
strands of auburn slip from beneath
a scarf tied below her chin.
White apron, dusted with bread flour,
covers her gray flannel dress.
Sitting at her feet, the girl now eight
clutches a Cocker Spaniel puppy.
Deep in frown, a boy of six
kicks at a clod of dirt.
At her side a chubby cheeked girl of two
leans against a tow-headed boy of four.
No smile reaches her hazel eyes.

In black and white with curled edges,
she’s dressed for church in hat and gloves,
stair-stepped children sandwiched between
the woman and her husband.
Meanness lurks in his eyes glazed from alcohol.
Fear shrouds the children’s faces. Desperation
clouds hazel eyes beneath gray-streaked auburn hair.
No smile touches her lips.

© Susan Parker
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author’s written permission.