Sunday, August 4, 2019

What We Keep by Al Ortolani

I consider myself lucky to sit today
at an old desk, window open,
the soft whirr of the brass-bladed Emerson
fluttering the pages of a paperback.
On the wall is a photograph (1909)
of my grandmother, age 3 or 4, staring
quizzically into the lens, sister
and cousins of similar ages, caught
at the feet of their grandparents.
A quilt hangs as a backdrop
from the porch of their Ozark home.
My uncle once said that he knew
where the quilt was stored, but that was
years ago. Even more time has passed,
my uncle gone, his children
as old as grandparents themselves,
the quilt in a chest somewhere, or not.

Al Ortolani’s poetry has appeared in journals such as Rattle, Prairie Schooner, and the Chiron Review. His newest collection, On the Chicopee Spur, was released from New York Quarterly Books in 2018. He is a recent recipient of the Rattle Chapbook Award for 2019. 

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