For Joey and Kharah

Disney will try to sell you new love, that

shiny penny love – Belle never bothered

with boyfriends before the Beast, likewise,

the Beast was too busy to date, had his hands

full with a chifferobe that walked the halls.

 

In real life, which is also a fairytale

(only absent the impracticality and

loose fit of glass slippers), hearts often

aren't fresh when they find their home.

 

You may be thinking: tattered and worn,

rough around the edges, second hand.

You may be thinking of someone else's

shirt, discarded after fading or stained.

Must we go to the thrift store for love?

 

What if this shirt already has children?

What if this shirt developed bad habits

in its last marriage, or wasn't cured

of the bad habits it already possessed?

 

What if this shirt leaves dirty socks on the floor?

 

But the heart is not a shirt, though

it may be softened. The heart is

a muscle that grows stronger with use.

That heart arrives home after

it has been through life's cycles –

 

real life love is washed and cleansed,

warm and ready to be held close to the skin.

For Katie B.

It is my firm belief that a daughter

Is a magnification rather than a dissolution

of her mother. It starts with a girl's hair,

curlier and wilder than her mother's,

also more frail, which is as well a magnification,

the daughter's power to be frail beyond

her mother’s dreams or memories of her

own frailness, which has been locked away

behind years of schooling, and stings

she's suffered along the way, inoculations

from bees and boys against letting her lip

tremble anymore, which hardly ever

happens now except when she sees

her daughter's rage or kindness or grief

on the playground, in the grocery store,

in the car, up front and loud, as saturated

as paint is when you first start to rinse

it from your fingers.

For Tom

 

Common sense says that holding something

up to your eye dims your vision.

But not so with a camera lens.

A camera specifies sight,

and when your looking narrows,

you can see the wide, the divine, of all.

 

And you'd think that by focusing

on everything else, you'd lose yourself,

or else the subject might lose their soul

(that old belief), but in fact both

the photographer and the object

of his art walk away magnified by

the purifying, black and white or color of awe.

© 2020 by Amber Shockley.