A chateau in the background
Suitcases. Blowing out birthday candles.
Curry and coriander on the shelf.
A canoe tied up at the dock.
A swimming pool in the rain.
A tractor. A can-opener.
A bucket of hot soapy water.
A green wool coat. A wedding dress.
I was laughing.
A stranger in an old photo album
That’s all I am now.
Sorry to interrupt your rest
you tell me
and then you turn the page.
16 thoughts on “A chateau in the background”
Poignant– “A stranger in an old photo album
That’s all I am now.”
I can imagine this so well, both the stranger and the person turning the pages.
Thank you. I was thinking of some old albums I remember my grandfather showing me when I was quite young, of a time when he was a boy, and all the people he named who were already dead before I was born, strangers to me.
I remember a photo of a couple of young women, I think maybe a couple of his aunts, with their backs to the camera, showing their very long hair (down to their knees). I was totally astounded by that and still remember the feeling so clearly!
Oh, I love that!
Oops, stopped too early. I was going to say, and now, I am on the way to being that stranger. Life does handle us all in the same way, eventually.
Yes, I suppose so. I have lots of old photos and I don’t know who people are in them.
The accumulations of life. (K)
Yes. And a photo album is kind of a way of making sense of it, and of how quickly we become strangers to those coming behind us, and yet so familiar.
That’s exactly right.
Both as someone who documents family life through photographs and as a family historian who has become the repository of all the vintage photos in the family, I found this poem to be incredibly poignant. Some day – maybe – a descendent of mine will be flipping through my albums and consider me a stranger, a connection lost in the passage of time. However, the family historian in me also knows how much I have uncovered using those photos, that I have been able to identify some of the unknown faces, so maybe there is a wee flicker of hope that some connection can remain.
You know, I have accepted the fact that I will be forgotten much more than when I was young, and I don’t care much about it either way. A big contrast from when I was young and I couldn’t bear the thought I would wash away one day and no traces remaining! It is enough for me to have had my own experiences and derive my own rewards or whatever. I am glad I have come to this point. I do wonder what a person coming upon my photos in years to come might think. All I know is that it will be just a brush across the surface of who I was. That is fine. Some things begin and end as mysteries, that is the human life’s destiny, I think.
I find it weirdly liberating and, therefore, peaceful to comprehend how entirely insignificant I am in the grand scheme of things.
You have said it perfectly.
Made me think of a friend who had a photo album of all the family, kids, grandchildren, great grandchildren made for her mother who had Alzheimer’s. She gradually forgot everyone until they were all just strangers on the pages. Though she still liked “reading” that picture book.
Yes, I have heard of similar situations, and it is saddening, yet the silver lining of it is the faces of people (whoever they might be) somehow made a connection.
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