after my Great-grandmother
by Andrea Beltran (photo also provided by Andrea)
1978, Valentine’s dance at the VA.
Lupe Lopez at 8159 La Paloma,
El Paso, Texas. One of your grandfather’s
old Polaroid cameras made it possible
for you to see me today. I was 86.
The porch is the same as you remember,
I know. Midnight green trim against
peeling, white stucco walls. They
never painted it again after I was gone,
thought I’d live on in this frame.
Your grandmother dutifully dressed me
like I was her small daughter on Easter Sunday.
A red and white paisley dress, hand sewn
with a skirt that swept the floor. I never
liked the color red, it was the white I agreed on.
I cut my hair five days before
the dance. I didn’t believe in dyeing
the gray. Gray was gray in my mind,
no matter. I wore my white dancing shoes,
waited for her to take my last photograph.
I squinted my eyes in the sun, stared
right into it and prayed. Yes, my hands
were folded in prayer just as you thought.
I dreamed of your green eyes
before you were ever conceived.
I knew you would hold this picture
one day. I asked her to save it for you,
told her I wanted you to know I grew my favorite
pink roses in her yard and wanted you to pick them
for me, wear them in your dark hair.
Believe me, she wanted to tell you.
I knew you before you were ever conceived.
You know my name only because it is written
it the margins of this photograph. You hold me
carefully at the corners, I love you just the same.
-refers from the word “prayer” in Teresa Senato Edwards poem As I think of ways to pray