Ramón García

Missed Romance & The Image
January 22, 2020 García Ramón

Missed Romance

An old black and white photograph
of a sinking ship, the Istanbul,
in a thrift shop
in Istanbul.

It was cheap; the shop owner
wanted ten dollars for it, but
I didn’t want to fit it
in a suitcase already packed
with stuff collected
in European cities that summer.

I think about that photograph now and then,
when thrift shops, talk of Istanbul or stories
of ships or sailors, salvage that sinking image:

an exotic, beautiful disaster
that could have been mine.

The Image

I found a photograph of you
Between the pages of Breton’s Nadja.
My heart fell down
The worn paperback rabbit hole
Of first love.

You are at the beach wearing a mariner sweater,
Sporting a cocky smile.

Did I take that photo in Santa Cruz
Or are you somewhere else?

Where is that boy, even more handsome
Than I remember, now a complete stranger?

Through a common friend with a vague
Government job that sends
Him to countries in potential conflict
I know that you married—
Last year you had a fourth child, all boys.
That you live in Lyon and that your wife’s
Mother died…

Naïve love of long ago, you were not less deep
For all that time forgoes.
Is your hair gray or balding?
I would most like to know
If you are still thin,
If the years have spared
The dark romantic circles
Under your green eyes,
And the state of your dandruffed hair
Smelling of cigarettes and Guerlain Vetiver.

Ramón García is the author of two books of poetry The Chronicles (Red Hen Press, 2015) and Other Countries (What Books Press, 2010), a scholarly monograph on the artist Ricardo Valverde (University of Minnesota Press, 2013) and a chapbook Strays (foundlings press, 2020).  He teaches at California State University, Northridge and lives in Los Angeles.