Home Movies

by Karen Luke Jackson

Christmas plays, homecoming
parades, dogs rolling in dirt,
teenagers twisting
to a Chubby Checker hit.

My sister and I peer
as faces flicker past,
pull memories like popcorn
from a shared bag.

What’s her name?
Count the candles quick.
That’s the Tuckers’ house.
Five. No, six.

Infants age
into snaggle-toothed youths,
women wear hats,
men chat at a gas station,
then spy the camera
and walk
toward the brown box
with wind-up key
as if to crawl
inside
to see…
to see what?

We don’t remember
Mama flashing her smile
or Daddy jumping the waves
as they do in these movies.

By the time we had eyes
the Bell & Howell film
had been traded for Kodak slides
perfect for photos of funeral flowers.

Karen Luke Jackson is an educator and Courage & Renewal facilitator. Her poems have appeared in Alive Now, Hungryhearts, Bay Leaves, Ruminate, and Ascent Aspirations, a Canadian anthology. In 2009, she won third place in the Poetry Council of North Carolina contest for free verse and experimental form. She also received honorable mention for the Janet B. McCabe Poetry Prize.

About Home Movies—After Mother’s death, my son converted Daddy’s movies, filmed from 1954 through 1963, to DVDs. Viewing scenes from my childhood brought both delight and dissonance. As I tried to make sense of what was flashing on the screen, this poem began to emerge.