On Facebook my sister-in-law discovers a photograph of the house
where she and my husband grew up. Towering sycamores
dwarf the roofline. He recalls he dug the holes deep,
tamped down rich loam. She doesn’t remember planting trees.
Memory is a telescope—it gathers light from dead stars,
pinpoints the timeworn farmhouse ten miles from town
—no neighbors, no fences. As gray as loneliness,
sagging curtains shroud narrow windows.
Focus reset, the telescope magnifies dust-motes
adrift in my husband’s sweltering attic bedroom—
miniature galaxies spin through twin beams from windows
close-set like roosters’ eyes. Under the peaked roof we sleep
among relics: Father’s accordion—fire-engine red, keys yellow
like the old man’s teeth. Mother’s treadle sewing machine,
her mother’s buxom Victorian manequin.
In a cardboard box of dog-eared snapshots
ancestors beg to be named.
The telescope zooms in on edgy face-offs
like freeze-frames in a black & white movie.
In one shoebox bedroom sisters butt heads;
in the other, Father harangues Mother.
The house hisses—a kettle about to boil over.
Muggy days, mind-numbing as after-school detentions,
sweaty nights, dank sheets, mosquitoes’ whine…
At the vanishing point where our telescopes lose resolution
my husband’s memories converge with mine.