Pin Prick

silence thick as her stews 
filled my grandmother’s house
but for the cars on 15
hissing toward Picatinny
on a wet night
big black Packards and Buicks
a Chevy’s wide whitewalls
spinning an asphalt two-lane
before the interstate sliced through
a table in her living room
filled with snaps of Jim and Jack
Howard Frank Velma Ruth
Gladys Leo Leroy Pat, the lot of them
in sepia, in black and white
mugging hugging beaming being
young as they’d been for the ages
for their tiny taste of time
vitality a temporal joke
skin smooth, 
taut as sky on a blue, blue day 
a pillow-piled daybed
against the front wall under a window
kitty-corner from the coal stove
its brown enamel radiant 
from October until the geometry 
of earth and sun more befitted 
blood & breath, fat chairs 
stuffed as turkeys of big Thanksgivings
in a mist of imagination
real as a pin prick, bright, 
huge as a moon,
crisp as frost
—memory is awful and tender
it claws and cradles the day
light, shadows shifting
illusions of gone mercies 
accusations caresses cuffs 
falling lifting

Jim Culleny