The dead were lined up for inspection
at Gert’s apartment in the Bronx,
their shiny faces arranged in even rows
like students gathered for a class photo.
At every birthday, Mother
measured me against the wall
and made another mark,
my adult teeth came in,
my voice began to crack,
the first hairs appeared on my dimpled chin,
but the faces in the frames remained the same,
forever smiling, forever young.
Now my own dead flit through my dreams
like actors in old movies,
in some shots slightly out of focus,
in others so utterly real
you can feel their breath stirring the pillow.
All blissfully suspended in time,
my mother’s auburn curls never turning grey,
my son’s wisp of a beard never fully growing in
(originally published in Taj Mahal Review)