Steve Hellyard Swartz

by Best Poem

She hasn’t told him that back home in Russia back home

And years and years ago
Years before he knew her before she knew herself even as
She was getting to know herself
As that was just starting
Something happened and it was this
It was no it was nothing
She is making dinner
He and their daughter are looking through a photo album
He points at a picture a black and white picture
It’s his favorite of her
He tells their daughter the same thing he always tells her
When he finds this photo
He says Look at Mama look how beautiful she was
Look at those eyes you can even see
In black and white how green they were
How sea green and that hair lightened by the sun
Yes this is my favorite one
She hasn’t told him and she won’t
That on that trip to the sea she fell in love
With a man the man who would write about her in her native tongue
Who would write about her as being
The great love of his life
This man this married man
Who would write his book lying in the sun
On his back on his stomach
With her as his shade and his light
It is hard to believe
Hard so hard to believe
But they published his book
Because it was, they said, about love and nothing else
This man she loved who
Loved her
Was married, had children, would never leave his wife,
Is he still alive?
She thinks he is but she won’t look him up won’t ask anyone
Won’t mention this to a soul won’t say a word
As her husband, he, and her daughter, their daughter,
Hold that black and white photo up to the light
What are they looking for she wonders
As she rubs her hands on the apron she wears
And he says again Look at Mommy Look
How beautiful she was
Look at those lips that hair
Look at the sun on those cheekbones
What she won’t say is
What she won’t say is
That she is in a cage
In that photo in that photo and
On every page

Steve Hellyard Swartz’s poetry has appeared in Best Poem, New Verse News, Haggard and Halloo, The Kennesaw Review, and switched-on guttenberg.  In 2008, he will have poems published in The Paterson Review and The Southern Indiana Review.  In 1990, his film “Never Leave Nevada” opened in Dramatic Competition at the U.S. Sundance Film Festival.