White Ink Journeys


70 years ago mom made a photo album,

pasted pictures in mounting corner tabs on black construction paper.

Under each one she wrote—with white ink—captions in elegant script:


June 17, 1944 Five years old and has chickenpox

My brother was not smiling.

June 17, 1947 Peter is three weeks and

And it is also Father’s Day

Grandpa, white shirted with tie,

Held a sleeping baby strange to my eyes . . .


No memory, no existence except Paul, gramps and white ink.


Nancy Lou and Peter October 1952 Wyncote

Halloween, Nancy Lou arrayed

in Little Miss Muffet white dress, picnic basket

and Peter in leopard suit and mask

ready to pounce, fang and claw.


Were these real? Are we not our memories?


The last one: May 1956 (lower border)

has no caption. A crew-cut kid posed with bow and blunt arrow,

in a backyard by a brick barbecue


ready to shoot a bear leering from a hedge.


Fading like memory.


The rest are blank, black pages,

ragged edges, fraying like my memories

but they are all I have

and all that I am.