They ghost through old photo albums
like houseguests who forgot
where they left their coats.
They could be anywhere,
those foreign women who’d drag us
into bathtubs or out of the snow. But now,
it’s as if they wish not to wake us.
They toe between pages,
cropped or blinking. They blur
into background, brushing food
off a dish. Only later would I learn
who returned to Guatemala. Who suffered
from lupus. Married or stole.
As a whole, I loved them.
As a whole, I don’t know what to do
with the past, all laundered
and folded, tucked in its place.
Irma smelled of hickory. Magdalena
read palms. Dolores had kids
of her own somewhere
and showed us their pictures:
first communion. A missing tooth.
Her babies budding in the arms
of relatives. Look, she’d instruct us:
the new haircut. Hand-me-down clothes. Look. And so we looked.
We got that close.
JARED HARÉL’s debut poetry collection, Go Because I Love You, was awarded the Diode Editions Book Award and published by Diode Editions in 2018. He’s also been awarded the Stanley Kunitz Memorial Prize from American Poetry Review and the William Matthews Poetry Prize from Asheville Poetry Review. New poems are forthcoming in A P R, Arts & Letters, Bennington Review, New Ohio Review, and Underwater New York. Harél lives in Queens, NY with his wife and two kids.