The Sweethearts

by Susan Rothlein

The young couple stands close, leaning against each other,
big smiles, slight squints from the sun. A man’s wide-brimmed
hat sits at a rakish tilt on the woman’s head as if playfully
placed there just before the picture was snapped. August,
1947, written on the back. Two years after the end of the war.
I imagine the man feeling lucky to be back, next to
his sweetheart on this summer day, their faces brimming
with optimism, big plans, looking into a future of
family, house, career for him, home with the kids for her.

I wish I had known them then, been off to the side, just
outside the frame. Heard their laughter, seen their teasing
intimacy. Before Mom began to collect resentments and
disappointments, marinating them in her evening scotch
on the rocks. Before Dad faded into longer and longer hours
at work, weeks away on business trips. Before they forgot
that young couple and a sunny afternoon in 1947.

Susan Rothlein, a retired special education and yoga teacher, lives in Asheville. She was new to writing poetry when she took her first Great Smokies class five years ago. She continues to enjoy the process of writing and exploring with other poets.

About The Sweethearts—This poem was inspired by a photograph of my parents taken on their first wedding anniversary.