Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Poem: Christening, 1965

Maria, Dennis and their son John on the day of his christening

Christening, 1965

On this late October day, when the sky
turns suddenly bleak as a gray blanket,
I think of this picture of us
standing in front of your mother’s white colonial
in River Edge, NJ.
We are both slim and young.
We are holding John
in his Christening outfit,
the one passed down
from your great-grandmother.
Our unlined faces are clear and content.
We cannot see into the future.
I would touch their faces,
those two young people,
our former selves,
those people who
don’t know yet that time
is a roller coaster driven by a demented operator
and once on it, no one is allowed to get off.
But for that moment, we two are so blessed
and perfect, the girl in her sheath dress,
her high heels, you in your suit,
handsome as always.
We wear a halo of sunlight.

Today I realize that John
is already fifty years old,
has children almost
as old as we were in the photo,
and you, already dead five years.
In the hotel mirror, I glimpse myself as I walk,
my back slightly bent, my feet trying not to shuffle,
my face falling toward old age,
the image hard as a slap.

Instead, I think about the photo,
the two of us with our baby son,
our faces, beautiful and glowing,
our happiness bathing us in light.

by Maria Mazziotti Gillan

Maria Mazziotti Gillan's most recent books are the poetry and photography collection, Paterson Light and Shadow  and the poetry collection, What Blooms in Winter . Her collection of poems along with some of her paintings is The Girls in the Chartreuse Jackets . Maria's official website is MariaGillan.com.

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