Her hair is parted in the center and this side
wall of the house ends just above her part.
The seam between the house and not-house
seems to rise out of the part in her hair.
Dandelions on the lawn are playing
sundials, their globes give out the time
of year. She’s not smiling so much
as grimacing against the pull of the brush
and squinting against the sun. Nowhere are
her feet more than tacit. She is the tallest one.
The whitecaps blink like second thoughts
or action captured through a fledgling medium,
made sweet and anterior, already posthumous,
trinkets. A building of pale stone stretching out behind.
Stately, in other words.
Modillions between windows even at ground level and awnings pulled in.
Shadows short as a breath caught short,
To the right of these two, a third girl is centered in the center of the picture.
She seems to sway, making a window between her waist and that of the tallest girl.
We see through this window to a window behind.
But she leans toward the tall girl, cocks her head, and looks at you.
It’s the look of a friend who knows you well.
Above these three pairs of dark patent boots
on the highest of three steps, where three
of the six toes jut out past the nosing
making three little cups of shadow
hanging from the top of the riser,
each little cup falling over to the right
at exactly the same angle, three columns
of girls in long coats rise
between two dark pillars on a porch, three bright
numbers running down the right-hand pillar:
All three wear hats,
each hat forms a porch
around each face, each face
smiles from its porches into the aperture.
Just in front of the porch steps, on a flat stone
that appears partially tucked under the porch,
a ficus in a clay planter. It produces
strange sounds. The silence that comes dressed
in not the past but conditional tense
may be quietest, it’s endured the most.
Their dated shoes are hidden in a cloud of grasses
of the kind she’s holding in her hand.
The sound of a strand of wild grass ripping
has something human about it, you feel
the earth’s scalp object, and that’s where you assert
your difference from the earth, an unexpected
homonym, in your own perception
quickly forgotten of how a patch of soil
resists you and then ceases to resist
and then the grass is yours. This
great piece of turf, this photo-realism.
He looks into the device
with a face almost expressionless,
a subject very knowing. She smiles.
I’ll be honest with you, it’s difficult
to like the men in these photographs.
My contempt might be capable
of reanimating them, the men alone, so deep
does power lodge in them, no
that can’t be right
when it’s the soil
and they the famished little roots.