It’s been estimated that every two minutes, we take more pictures than the whole of humanity in the 1800s. How many of them were worth taking and sharing is a question that will not be answered.
With such a turnover per capita, one might think our lives are being documented at every step and then when a dear one passes away there is somehow no good photo to keep. I know this from experience as I talk to people all the time who call to ask if anything can be done to fix the cherished image. more often than not it’s a phone camera shot that gets too blurry when enlarged. Take good pictures of the ones you love while you still can!
The Poetry of Steve McDonald
I lift them like kisses from the wall:
my daughter in a pumpkin costume;
my mother and her poodle, the one she loved
like the sister, soul mate, lover she never had;
my father, shoulders back, belly out,
a flat blue lake, a gray sky. And in the spaces
left behind—one for each memory
wrapped and packed away— thin, sharp nails.
One-by-one I extract them, gripping
and twisting needle-nosed pliers
to prevent the chip or flake of paint.
But I can’t avoid exposing the plaster
under its layers of years, the same way
the mortician who applies the makeup
to my father’s body cannot prevent
the incidental scraping of his ear,
revealing the cold gray flesh. My wife
at the funeral says His ear is blue.
Once the nails are out, I consider
the pencil marks made years earlier
to define the placement of each frame.
I use an eraser, the kind you knead
until it’s warm and soft, pliable
as an infant’s fist, while outside the window
a sparrow hops across the brick planter,
one of the wild birds my father always fed
when he could still rise on his own.
When I see his body lying in its coffin,
I bend across the torso, press my lips
to the stone-cold brow. I kiss him
the way I never kissed him in life,
stripped now of all defenses, naked
before me even in his gown of coat and tie.
And I do not wonder why I kiss him.
I know I have lifted the pictures from the walls.
I know the walls are white and I will fill
the holes with care—covering anything
that might reveal what has been damaged, or where.