Ambient light, angle of view
And in this one, there is a young man dressed in a dark blue suit with narrow lapels, a plain white shirt, a slender tie. He wears horn-rimmed glasses of contemporary style, a haircut that is long but neatly trimmed, like a Kennedy perhaps or like a Beatle. He is relaxed and casual, nonchalant, hand in a pocket; and at his side, her stance proprietary and self-assured, a beautiful dark-haired girl grips his substantial arm. In her simple sheath of black she is both elegant and modest. At their feet, Lilies-of-the-Valley bloom and Bleeding Hearts and in their own neat beds, Violets, Pansies, Jonquils. Fronting the long porch in the background, already riots of his mother's roses climb sagging trellises. Above them, in a window panel, the sun is a white flash on glass. And caught by coincidence in a shady corner of the frame, a robin hunting the new-mown lawn stares fixedly at the ground, head at an odd angle. The boy and girl, their brows slightly clenched, their eyes narrowed against the hard glare of the morning sun, together they confront the camera sternly, staring into its lens as if at something worrisome glimpsed far off, something ominous but indistinct at the horizon.
May Day gale—
in a mountain orchard, plum trees
shedding white petals
Though there was pain and regret yet to come, do not read sadness here. This is no elegy. For them, everything found the perfect place, the perfect season.
Elms eighty feet tall—
shading a narrow street,
this memory of trees
As always, the Christmas card shows her beside her second husband. Vacationing in Hawaii this year, they are relaxed, casual, clearly comfortable together as they walk that lonely beach. In her letter, she reports that to get this shot they have handed off their new camera to a passing stranger who, unfamiliar with its operation, must hold his head at a comical angle to peer at them through the viewfinder. It is evening and behind them in a corner of the frame the last small arc of the sun's rim has yet to slip below the sea. They are almost in silhouette. At their feet the tide ebbs or flows. From out of that infinite distance, they look back at us as if at something lovely. I do not know, but I think all ought to end as we believe it should.
Jeff Streeby grew up in Sioux City, Iowa, where he attended Morningside College. He earned the Master of Fine Arts Degree through Gerald Stern's program at New England College in Henniker, New Hampshire. He is a horseman, cowboy poet and performer. He currently teaches high school English in Perris, California. In 2005 and 2006, he was an invited presenter at the Gerard Manley Hopkins Summer Institute in Monasterevin, Ireland.
His work has been published in Western Horseman, The Big Roundup, Cowboy Poetry: The Reunion, Lynx, Rattle and others. His current project "Sunday Creek" is a feature on cowboypoetry.com (http://www.cowboypoetry.com/sundaycreek.htm).