Where the Light Collects
Judith H. Montgomery

Where the Light Collects

For courtesy, they pause—mid-step in fox-trot—
     and ease their bodies one half-breath apart but
          do not turn to look into the lens. The flash

has etched on paper his meticulously parted hair,
     lace ripple of her clinging dress. All else dims
          behind—crepe-paper sway, the other dancers’

slow stopped steps. So proper, this couple who
     carry within them the urge that will be me. Her
          bodice barely grazes his lapel. It’s not their bodies

where the light collects. Light lives inside their
     gaze, a subtle current hum. They see only each
          other, even as daughters will be born and will try

them. As her waist will thicken, his careful hair
     skimp gray. Her mind will clot and fail, until
          at last he must hail a bus to visit his beloved who

will not be certain of his name, though her eyes
     will glisten when he steps across the foster home’s
          cane-worn sill. They settle close on the couch,

he tucks her again inside the arc of his arm.
     She dozes on his arthritic shoulder, two fused
          one in October’s gold slant. I slip the image

back in place, between glass and velvet backing.
     Fix the little clips to hold them suspended. Here
          may they hover, oblivious to what waits beyond

the flash. Light stays them, pulsing in the frame.

Judith H. Montgomery

has contributed to Bellingham Review, Tahoma Literary Review, and Poet Lore, among other journals. Her first collection, Passion, received the Oregon Book Award for Poetry. Her fourth book, Litany for Wound and Bloom, was a finalist for the Marsh Hawk Prize and appeared in August 2018 from Uttered Chaos Press. Her prize-winning narrative medicine chapbook, Mercy, was published by Wolf Ridge Press in March 2019.