This week’s prompt at Big Tent Poetry asked us to be inspired by a portrait – either one in our own collection or one we found online – from the photographer’s point of view.
I chose to write about Dorothea Lange’s “Migrant Mother” .
The Photographer Remembers Dirt
after “Migrant Mother” by Dorothea Lange
They eat it in their meager meals, scavenged and boiled. It is
a second skin, plastered to them like poultice, insistent,
burrowing into the creases of their necks. When I swallow,
it tastes of regret. The little ones bury their smudged faces
in the folds of her dress, shun my lens out of fear or doubt.
They are not accustomed to the light. But there are dreams
in their mother’s eyes: someday they will know comfort – new
shoes, hot baths, cupboards full of store-bought food. They will
sweep their fine houses every day, brush away each filthy speck
of memory. They will forget this moment -and they will shine.