The Husband & I stand next to each other: not speaking, sometimes speaking.
See? Asks the photograph. A closeness or almostness?
The photograph is meaningless except insofar as it is a record of us in a place at a moment that is past.
The mind is many words at once, unlike photographs. Unlike poems.
The poem is this & not that, this word, not that. Like walking—one foot in front of the other—not like thinking.
No one can see me thinking about:
Not the poem. Not the photograph.
The poem says “We” & means you. But not you & you, not you.
The poem is a bully. The poem is brutal. The poem is the present insofar as it was real/true/possible for one moment.
In the snapshot the Husband looks like my father, like my father looked a long time ago.
In the snapshot the Husband looks like a father. He is a father.
My mother has been gone a long time.
I look for her. I look like her.
All this water.
The poem says: “gone.”
I have no eyes for this, I think, when the expanse of beauty is unremitting.
Rachel Zucker is the author of ten books, including the forthcoming SoundMachine. She is the founder and host of the podcast Commonplace: Conversations with Poets (and Other People), an adjunct professor at NYU, creator of a new audio project also called SoundMachine, and mother to three sons.
“Snapshot” was originally published in TLR: Feverish