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24 April, 2017: Photograph


by Angie Estes

Even large historical portraits assumed to have
been painted from life are often found to have a
photograph, rather than a blank surface, beneath
the paint.

—David Featherstone, Untitled 50

What is loss compared
to the memory of my thumbnail
across your cheek, stretched like the tail
of a comet on its way
out of night; who loved
Mona Lisa more than the one
who wiped the smile on her face
with a knife?
                                    Underneath every painting
lies a photograph of what we can keep
out of all that we’ve been: it is flat
and perfect and wants only
to be thin,
                                    but always we remember
something we think we still might see
and move straight in to touch it, nodding
as we tap its tight skin.
                                                This is the only portrait we have
of love when it ends—a hundred paw prints tracking
over moonlit windowpanes, you looking out
of a photograph across a bleached
terrain, waiting for the terraced
whorls at some finger’s end
to etch the glassy surface
of your eyes.
“Photograph” by Angie Estes, from The Uses of Passion. Gibbs Smith, Publisher, 1995. Used by permission of the author.
Angie Estes is the author of five books, most recently Enchantée (Oberlin College Press, 2013), winner of the 2015 Kingsley Tufts Poetry Prize. Her previous book, Tryst (Oberlin, 2009), was selected as one of two finalists for the 2010 Pulitzer Prize. Her second book, Voice-Over (Oberlin, 2002), won the 2001 FIELD Poetry Prize and was awarded the 2001 Alice Fay di Castagnola Prize from the Poetry Society of America. Her first book, The Uses of Passion (1995), was the winner of the Peregrine Smith Poetry Prize.


Occasional poems mark an event. Write an occasional poem on one of this year’s anniversaries. Here are just a few: the 200th anniversary of the birth of Henry David Thoreau, the 125th anniversary of Sherlock Holmes’s debut, the 80th for canned Spam, the 50th of the first heart transplant, and the 30th for The Simpsons TV show.

To the Cleveland Metroparks, Happy Centennial to you,
With your 18 reservations, eight golf courses and a zoo.
You have given us such joy over the many years,
The beauty of your greenery makes us give three cheers!

In the early 1900s, a man named Stinchcomb started the plan.
He had a vision to connect the parks and purchase more land.
In 1917, it was approved and the Metroparks system came to be.
Here’s to many more years of enjoying the land and the trees.
4/27/2017 9:03:57 AM

Chantelle Brady
Happy Anniversary

Long long ago...
A wooden horse
was placed
outside the gates
of the city of Troy.
The Trojans accepted
this gift of doom.
This happened...
3200 years ago,
on this day in history
-- 1184 BC.
Happy anniversary to
the Greeks for their
defeat of the Trojans!
4/25/2017 4:00:53 PM

Lucky Lindy takes flight
Crossed the Atlantic
Day and night
Long Island to Paris

By himself with
the Spirit of St. Louis
Two continents, one ocean
First to conquer the sea by air

Grandpa's first hero
Forced him to read the paper
Italians cheering a Swede
Who brought the old country to a new home
4/24/2017 10:20:40 PM

Betty Kovacs
Poetry month is coming to an end.
I will be missing my new-
found friend.
4/24/2017 10:20:06 AM

READ + WRITE: 30 Days of Poetry is a collaboration between Cuyahoga County Public Library and poet Diane Kendig. Our thanks go to Diane and the poets of Northeast Ohio who allowed us to share their poetry.