Tuesday Poem: ‘Snapshots’ by Michelle Elvy


He brings the spoonful of Quaker Oats to his lips; his hand trembles
but the oats stick to the spoon. His mind quivers and nothing sticks.
A woman smiles up at him from a photo on the front page of the morning
paper. He thinks of his wife, the way she tucked her hair behind her left ear,
like the woman in the photo. He can barely picture her any more. His mind
offers snapshots of the life he’s lived: a green metal swing-set he shared
with his sister, the arc of waves over a long white beach, a fallen friend’s face
shaded by a muddied helmet. A white cat – or was it grey? A piano and a flute.
A blue floral sofa he never liked. Bacon, port, strawberry pie. And sometimes
he can feel his wife’s hand in his – the small fingers with their neatly trimmed
nails, the wide gold band that wouldn’t come off over aging knobby knuckles,
the long lifeline (a lie, he reckons: she should have outlived him by years).
Sometimes he hears her laughter in his dreams. But he cannot recall much
about her face – his mind is a broken camera. Still, he always loved that hair
behind her ear.


This poem was first published in the fall 2012 issue of Drunken Boat


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12 Responses to Tuesday Poem: ‘Snapshots’ by Michelle Elvy

  1. Al McDermid says:

    This is excellent, Michelle. I love the sparseness, how we’re left to fill in the story.

  2. ajponder says:

    sad. sparse melancholy. I think I’m going to need those oats – good comfort food that.

  3. gurglewords says:

    i enjoyed it for its gentle treatment of the topic..He remembers the important things ..the hair behind her ear, her laughter..that’s special. 🙂

  4. Elizabeth says:

    The accumulation of small details build so delicately, so quietly in this – very tender poetry, Michelle. I love the listing of physical items and acts that recall the essence of a loved one (particularly like the list of comfort food – bacon, port, strawberry pie). Beautiful.

  5. Helen Lowe says:

    Very nice, Michelle: there’s a whole life here…

  6. pscottier says:

    I am, I must admit, terrified of old age, and specifically of outliving my husband. A beautiful work, Michelle.

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