In an old photograph taken at the shore
late in the fall or very early in the spring
it must have been because he wore
a gray wool double-breasted coat buttoned
all the way up, he stands facing the photographer,
small hands held together, fingertips just touching
as if to make a bridge. A breeze from the sea behind him
lifts his blond curls above his blue eyes and his smile.
before I was born, when he was four, or
four and a half perhaps. I don't know why
his parents took him to the shore that day. It was
before his father was beguiled (his mother's
word) by his twenty year old secretary, the Iowa
farm girl who'd come to New York to sing and dance,
before his mother told his father that another
child was coming, who would turn out to be me,
before his mother knew the Iowa farm girl was spending
more time on his father's lap than at her typewriter,
before his mother left his father and the Iowa
farm girl in New York to move back home down South.
How did that smile
become this old man, my brother, who waits
tables at a home-cooking style restaurant near Atlanta,
walks streets that have no sidewalks so he takes
the gutter to a rented house where two dozen aloe
plants greet him with green, a dressmaker's mannequin
stands armless in a pink bikini, and a silent cat
dozes in dusty sunlight where it slants through
gauze curtains that hang, limp, in the front room window?
Laurence Coe was born in New York City, raised in the South, and lived in many places - from Georgia to Connecticut - before settling in mid coast Maine in 2012. She was a union organizer in Alabama garment factories in her 20's and remains a social activist. Laurence has written poetry for many years, but only recently began submitting poems to poetry contests, winning first place in a Connecticut Muse annual poetry contest and second place in the Rockland Library's poetry contest. Laurence lives in Rockland with her partner, David Long, and their large tan hound, Ella, and likes to spend time kayaking, sailing small boats and playing the ukulele.