When you haul out the old photos from the box, they
lie on the table, faded black and white, names written
on the back long ago, by someone preparing for the day
no living friends would summon them over for coffee,
or offer a ride to the beach. Today your grandson looks
on as you pull up relations like weeds from some long
untended garden. He has the easy part, to hold the edges
still, while you decipher faces, unearth connections.
His feet, in long purple sneakers, stretch beneath the table.
One early photo shows his great-grandmother riding
her husband’s shoulders. She laughs. Even though you both
know she never did in later life, her small face always pinched
and pruned. The pile seems never ending, one old photo
after another. Early autos. A pony. Someone’s calico
cat. Domestic scenes. The military. The boy never complains,
says nothing, until you come to the photo of him as
an infant, lying against your chest, both of you with eyes
closed. Look at that, he says. We are all asleep.