Photographs of the waterskiing versions of us,
the ones who went to Machu Picchu & Chunchucmil,
the selfish & long-haired & parasailing us,
now stuck together, gloss on gloss.
Deck of cards & Phillips-head screwdriver,
cords & wires for gadgets I no longer own.
I drink a lot of chai now & do insufferable crosswords
& when I’m digging for a reading light
or alligator clip I’ll linger on stray photos,
linger on younger you with such lavender nostalgia,
younger me with such disdain—
How stupid he looks in paisley! Those horn-rims!—
& I’ll pull apart the pictures of you in a tiara & satin
& you at doing the cha cha at a Waffle House
& you fellating a Ronald McDonald statue
& you’ll seem newer to me than milk,
newer than a sleek foal
though of course I have been your old horse for years.
Outside, rain will beat down the grass
until it bends lower than when it’s fresh-cut,
vines will wrap green fingers around trunk & limb,
as if to pull the high branches down.
The arms of gravity never do the job fast enough.
Down birch, down oak. Down shed.
Down clapboard & down Tudor revival & down ranch.
That pull. We’re getting older & we feel it,
even when so long ago doesn’t feel so long ago.
We’ll end up in soil & wormbelly & root system
& eventually we’ll be in the fossil record
for scientists of a much older earth—
which will then seem new & renewing—
to rummage around in, regarding our strata
for its clutter, its tires & smokestacks & bones.
Ross White is the author of The Polite Society and How We Came Upon the Colony, both from Unicorn Press. His work has appeared in American Poetry Review, The Collagist, The Southern Review, and others. He teaches creative writing and grammar at the University of North Carolina and the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics, and serves as poetry editor for Four Way Review.