Looking through old slides stored upright
In rectangular boxes – 1960s greatest hits.
Family vacations and holidays. Yellowstone,
Mesa Verde, Christmases with look-alike aunts
From Milwaukee, Easter bonnets, sister brother
Siblings stand on their Kentucky blue grass lawn.
Each summer they loaded up the Rambler.
Hooked a pop-up tent trailer behind.
Parents up front, kids in back. A boy, crew-cut,
Squints into the sun, climbs rocks, leans into
His mother so tall. And they look happy. Plain happy.
Egg salad sandwiches. Fold-out state maps.
“You’re a good navigator” they praise the boy – my husband
Who peers into a handheld projector, lying across our bed.
His father used slide film. Labelled them in script.
Middle-aged, thin, he smiles for the camera in pleated
Slacks, his plaid short-sleeved shirt tucked in, his belt
Exactly notched. I can almost hear the mother-in-law
I never met. Honey, let me take a picture of you.
The slides are labeled: 1963, 1964, 1966, 1967, and on.
In the 70s the slides change.
The boy and girl have braces, less ready to smile on cue.
Cruises replace national parks. His mother’s hair is darker now.
¬And my husband doesn’t want to look at slides anymore.
She’s wearing a wig. Cancer. But he picks up the last box.
Bermuda. His mother’s last cruise. And his parents look happy.
So happy. His mother said. This was the best day of my life.
In months my husband will be older than his mother ever was.
He tears up. It’s about love. It just always is.