She was crazy as a loon, snapping slow
golden Polaroid photos through dust specked
photos of nothing
photos of the back yard apple tree and
thick, low mellow California light.
She was crazy about birds,
buying cheap dimestore taxidermied versions
and making us put on plays with them,
casting goldfinch as grandmother.
We were permitted only to chirp.
Birds chirp, they don't speak. Don't be silly now.
I had to beg for the house when she died,
its tuneless piano, its halls piled ankle high
with the last twelve years worth of
It took me three weeks to find them,
the sliding stacks of photos
and not one of me.
Until finally our fingers, unimportant
and yellowed like the hands of smokers
by bad photography and poor storage,
pinching small plastic feet.
And on the reverse, in a cramped
and scratchy hand, written
Jay and Robin, 1979.