Poetry / June 2015 (Issue 28)

Photographs Under Plastic Sheets

by Jim Pascual Agustin

The skin on my mother's arms
begins to resist the mid-afternoon
humidity by pushing
out beads of sweat.

While we flip through the pages
of family albums with cracked
spines and bent corners,
our elbows touch.

She runs her palms over
the fine bubbles of air
trapped from the time
the photographs were pressed

in position with sheets
of adhesive plastic.
It is too late to ease them
out. She pauses two fingers

on the chest of each person
captured in the moment, as if
to check for a pulse.
She gropes for names.

An aunt in Mindanao
wearing a sarong.
A cousin in Saudi Arabia
in flowing white thawb,

his tilted turban and thick beard
drawing a chuckle from us.
A godchild in Canada
standing stiff next

to a snowman. Knowing
she'll never set eyes on them
again, she turns to me. Her smile
so still, I freeze.
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