On seeing an archival photo posted
by the Brookline Historical Society
This is a poem for the little girl forever
staring out from the second floor window
of the house at Bowker and Toxteth,
Brookline, Mass., one fine black-and-white
day in 1890-something.
You are not looking toward the corner
at what will be my house a century from
now, nor at the newly planted trees
lining the street that I will come
to know as old friends.
I know you were staring intently, with
a patience born of curiosity and time,
because your image survives unblurred
through the long exposure of 100 years.
Did you know love? Did you have
children who would stare from
windows? Did you lose him in the
We are playing Hiding-Go-Seek, but
you cannot see me hiding somewhere
in the future, in my room a half-a-block
away. I study you, and wonder about
the life after the window.
Did you ride the horses in the stable down
by Brook? What unforgettable memories
did you gather? Did you live long and well?
It’s clear the photographer didn’t notice
you as your eyes took his picture, be-
cause his camera points elsewhere, at
the two houses across Toxteth.
It’s a street scene, quiet, perhaps an early
morning in late fall, no leaves on the young
trees and everyone–well, nearly everyone-
still asleep in their beds, a chance to stare
at the one thing intruding on the silence
of this almost passing moment, exploding
like fireworks over the Hatch Shell.
The witness stares. She listens.
November 30, 2010