Three women

A photograph taken
three years after war had ended.
It’s the garden, in fact a neglected yard
that lay behind the house.
Not one of us there is smiling.
Fear steeps these garments, so often
torn and mended, as families are.
We’re looking straight at the camera: my mother
with the swept-up hair-do of a film about
occupied France.
My grandmother twists a handkerchief in her hands
for one of her sons, still in prison.
I hardly remember the other woman:
weakened with so much suffering, my aunt
died of a heart-attack a few months later.
Amidst the three of them, astride a bike,
four years old, grave-faced, I look like an adult.
How little there remains,
stored in memory’s poky little room,
overlooking the dry garden of an autumn
with ghosts of roses: the garden
of childhood, fear’s back-yard.