Great-uncle August
peers out of the family tintype much
too seriously for a young boy.

Is he searching the darkness
out beyond the flash and smoke,
out here where we are yet unborn?

Probably the stiffer wool of Sunday
knee-pants itches to obsession
and his good boots pinch.

There are things he’d rather be doing
than holding still, staring at the birdie.
But this is what it takes to be a picture.

It is important.  Momentous.
Archival.  You can tell
because nobody smiles.

Once the posing’s done, there will be
loosening of buttons, ties, laughter
and lemonade out on the porch.

Great-uncle August’s eyes will
maybe twinkle then.  There might be hugs.
This is the part we’ll never see.

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