What’s to Be Is Already Written

—My prize-winning ekphrastic poem, “What’s to Be Is Already Written,” inspired by the photo “Fading Memories” by Suzette Dushi, as part of the Griffin Museum of Photography’s exhibit entitled “Once Upon a Time: Photographs that Inspire Tall Tales”


in the sinews, in tibia and fibula, in the small

bracelet of wrist: this boy in a bathing suit


perched on a rock at shoreline. Trace the dark mane

of hair that crests over his studious eyes, trace


the hairless chest down his jaunty hands

resting lightly on his hips, as if he could hold


the whole ocean inside the crooks of his arms.

Turn, turn, and here beside him is the man


he will become, shirtless, seated, facing away

from the camera, his spine raised like a mountain ridge


above two valleys. Each vertebrae has been a long march.

I shall not want.


Slack skin eddies under his armpit.

In his narrow room: bedside table lamp,


bed with rumpled pillow,

Chippendale headboard.


Nursing home? Or spare bedroom like the one

my grandfather lived in for years, behind the kitchen


at my aunt’s house, shuffling in slippers and robe

heating up leftovers in a Pyrex dish, humming


tunelessly to himself. In the photo, this man

has lowered his nearly bald head (side of his face


in shadow), dreaming the boy on the rock, who

has been waiting for him all these years.

Fading Memories, by Suzette Dushi