An Old Family Photo Wedged in a Drawer
Victor Basta

An Old Family Photo Wedged in a Drawer

Its right edge has warped us all
into the drawer’s inside seam, 
sloughing the ink cells 
of our memories into 
its unbeveled gap 
of gustless cabinet weather. 

I stride into view, slightly airborne 
on the photo’s raised left wing, 
handing a bleaching sister to my mother. 
Her back is buried in its seam. 

Or maybe it is my mother pulling 
her away from my reach. Who 
gains, who loses, it’s hard to tell. 
None of us pays attention 
to the damage along our bottom border. 

I did not know then that this 
would be yet another moment 
of transaction. That in the constellation 
of my family, pinned against
this square, ink-black sky, 
we were not stars reflecting 
quiet light from each other.

But, rather, we were their gravity. 
Only now, following each other 
headfirst into a drawer gap 
that my sister has already fallen into, 
it is finally clearer, in what gray 
has survived the light all these years, exactly 
what it has done to us all. 

Victor Basta

was born in Cairo, Egypt, and immigrated to the United States with his parents at the age of eight. His poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in the Grub Street Annual Review, Spoon River Poetry, and The Midwest Quarterly. He is an incoming MFA student at Warren Wilson College in 2021.