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From the Silver Mines


Here, in this photo, I turn and look back,

my hair blown unnaturally to one side,

my mouth half open, maybe in surprise,

or maybe saying something best unsaid.


The innocence of being caught off-guard

is heightened by a sense of what escaped:

the only evidence of words, a ghost,

a sheet of condensed breath torn from my lips.


I think of others who looked back:  Lotís wife,

and Orpheus, who had so much at stakeó

how carelessly they must have turned and glanced,

looking like this before the shock set in.


And those who found Medusa over their shoulder,

gazed into her eyes, her sinister stars,

and saw themselves, into their wishes, saw

their future as a past and hardened to stone.


How quietly regret sneaks up behind us,

how slowly it accumulates, like salt,

or silver used to make a photograph

of someone, somewhere I would rather be.


Michael T. Young



From Transcriptions of Daylight, Rattapallax Press,
© 2000; originally printed in The Hollins Critic.
Reprinted by permission of the author.


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