A Short Good Life

She Is Looking Right at Me

She is looking right at me
not at the camera, at me.
My friend Lou showed me
when photographing people
to just hold the camera in hand and click
with faith
that there was a good chance
the lens would capture
what one wanted to capture
in an interesting way
without the camera up in front of the photographer’s face.
Better to Let our faces be open to one another,
nothing in the way

In this picture
she is looking right at me
her light brown curls are longer than they have ever been
cascading over her shoulders.
Her forehead is fully smooth
no troubles have landed there.
Her faith in the world
and in us is complete.
Her face is completely open
Like an open-faced sandwich.
The top piece of bread just isn’t there.
It isn’t needed. 
That’s how open her face is.
Her hazel eyes sparkle, curious. 
What’s up daddy?
Because I said her name
not Hey, Lizie
I didn’t need to say Hey
I knew how she was just then
alert and receptive
I had a sense
saying her name would cause her to look
and I would catch her in just that open state.
We were getting out of the car,
A rented minivan. In my imagination
I can feel the texture and picturize (as she might say) the maroon upholstery.
Elena and Molly had been quicker out of the car.
From where were we coming back?
I can’t recall. Nor why she has an orange yarn necklace.
I remember It holds a card with her name dangling on her chest
below what the camera captures.
What we were doing that day,
Why would she be wearing that name tag?
It won’t come back to me.
When it comes to recall at a certain point,
you get what you get, and you don’t get upset,
so I let it go.

She is looking right at me with a clarity
a composure that I associate with certain pieces of music.
When I listen to them my brow softens
becomes smooth
As smooth as it can become at this age
Maybe Terry Riley’s G Song
Maybe Poem in G Minor played by Jessica Williams
Next to that one I see the word Live.
I know it is meant to rhyme with strive.
It was recorded Live.
But it could just as well rhyme with Give.
It would be Live.
Live, Lizie, Live
as long as you can.
Live, everyone, live, as long as you can,
as fully as you can.
Live, give as much love as you can give.

Can she see the past
to the ancestors who never knew her
And all the burdens they carried out of Russia?
Can she see the future
And all the relatives who will share her family tree
No. She has good eyes but she cannot yet see through time.
Not yet. She is looking neither behind nor ahead.

She is looking right at me.
She is looking right at each of us.
At all of us.
She is full of wonder
and is easily astonished.
She does not know what is coming.
Any more than we do.
She is not thinking about what is coming.
She is looking right at us.
Seeing us simply
As we are right now.

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