If we all begin as blank
as I look in these photos, I represent
the vessels we are before the rains
of awareness fall and we’re filled
with water we don’t understand.
Or the opposite’s true and this
is how we’ll look in the future
buffed and focused on bottom lines
unlike our previous soft-headed selves
rising fluorescent in company sun.
This is the problem with photographs:
faces mean what they might
become, neon signs jangling
light to an empty street, neon
flashing in warehouse glass.
Where is the kid who sat up in bed,
sudden truth of his own death
driving him stunned to his parents’
door where he stood waiting
to be asked what was wrong?
In the photo my daughter holds of herself,
she is two years younger, rising concerned
from her small plastic chair. I can see in her face
she’s lost the memory of being this girl
of the beach that stretches behind her.
It’s sadness she feels looking back
at herself. I am the one who should know
what to say, who stood in a hallway
of nothing but shadows and must
have emerged with some kind of truth.
Nothing I say could do enough,
could make what’s been seen go away.
My daughter has glimpsed where this all
is leading, wishes she didn’t but understands
she is already leaving her life behind.
Scott Davidson grew up in Montana, worked for the Montana Arts Council as a Poet in the Schools, and – after most of two decades in Seattle – lives with his wife in Missoula. His poems have appeared in Southwest Review, Bright Bones: Contemporary Montana Writing, trampset, Terrain. org, and the Permanent Press anthology Crossing the River: Poets of the Western United States.