In their wedding photos,
my mother resembles a doll of herself,
painted and straw-thin in tablecloth lace,
while my father looks like a movie star of the era —
Easter blue suit and high coif, cut glass cheekbones,
handsome bordering on the absurd. I’d never
seen these pictures before. My mother
recounted her dogged, starry-eyed pursuit.
Here is where I’m supposed to say
I was surprised, describe the old man I grew up with,
the ragged husk at the end. Except
even the anesthesiologist felt terrible
for the teenage swim captain
cut down in his prime, misunderstood
the swarm of young women in the surgical hall.
As his three grown daughters
contrived a six-handed way to lift his wheelchair,
as we raised him over our heads,
our father looked like a garlanded boy-king.