Carrie Etter

The Last Photograph
April 24, 2024 Etter Carrie

The Last Photograph


a golden shovel on the opening line of Gwendolyn Brooks’ “To Prisoners”


Together we watched TV, or you gazed idly while I
eyed you, waning, and reached for my phone to call
you back.
‘Smile,’ I said, positioning the camera for
the last time. Widowing, you turned slowly; you
struggled to smile, the lamplight a halo, cultivation
of a minor saint.
Still I took the photo, ignorant of
the effort. Only after your death did I sense the strength
summoned to lift your face, now evident in
the mirror. Blame this photo on the love or the
selfishness of daughters, before they meet the dark.


“The Last Photograph” will appear in Carrie Etter‘s fifth collection, Grief’s Alphabet (Seren Books, 2024). The recipient of grants from Arts Council England and the Society of Authors, Etter has lived in the UK since 2001 and is a member of the creative writing faculty at the University of Bristol.