We conclude our Poetry Month series today with a poem by Rafael Campo, from his 2007 collection The Enemy. In addition to being a poet, Campo is also a doctor at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston. In this poem, he wonders about the stranger accidentally caught in a photo of him and his partner.
Ode to the Man Incidentally Caught in the Photograph of Us on My Desk
At first, you look determined, sunglasses
protecting your imaginary blue,
and therefore possibly sensitive, eyes.
You don’t seem like the others, arms askew,
heads angled, asses in the air—you march
as if you think that life depended on
your mission. Out of focus, on the beach
we have our backs to, maybe it’s forgone
to you, the heartening conclusion that
humanity must still be worth your care.
Around you teems the world at play, too fat,
too innocent, too broken to repair.
Much time has passed; the cheerful photograph
of us seems marred by your demeanor now,
as if the years of heedless frozen laughs
had changed your mind, as if you always knew
that any love was treacherous, that all
was somehow lost. Irretrievable friend,
your vaguely handsome face yet dutiful,
bear witness to us, even in the end.
Copyright Rafael Campo, 2007.