A thousand years ago
When youth rested easily on her face
Before the thousand ships were launched
Persephone kidnapped, when the world went dark
This Kodachromed wormhole
To happiness unclouded.

Her flawless complexion
Lips red full with promise
The symmetry of her hazel eyes
Looking clear, unblinking, unworried
Before the bombs fell and the babies died
And the world immolated with pride of life
Before all around became
This vast unbroken silence, arid wind
When history stopped, cameras half snapped
When time collapsed and all that remains

Is the photograph under my thumb
Caressed by calloused hands
Who would give gold to have
Another moment on those lips
This pair, dried, parched,
Bends down to kiss that time that place
That face where once lived beauty.
Goodness. Gentleness. Home.

All we ask of the women of our youth
Is that they never harden.
The coarseness of our masculine nature breaks them all.
The weariness of our unforgiving world breaks them all.
The harshness of our voices breaks them all.
And when they break and age and die, our hearts break too.

Is there a God who can forgive me?
Will God forgive this tattered man?
If there is a heaven, she is there.
If there is a hell, I am there.
If I had a wish, I would wish for her
But next time, in a better world, with a better man.

To the one in the wallet.