You are standing, straight and tall,
your plain cotton dress
accentuating your slender figure.
Your younger sister stands beside you
on the sidewalk along F Street, Northwest
in Washington, DC. The two of you
had gone into the city on your own,
without your parents—two teenage girls
in town on a beautiful spring day.
You are looking straight at the photographer.
Your wide smile and your eyes remind me
of how open and trusting you were,
qualities that too many of us perhaps lose
too soon, or that diminish in our cynicism—
qualities that, I admit that as I grew up,
made me think of you as dependent on others—
your husband, your brothers, your younger sister,
who, in the photo, stands at your side,
her body positioned at a slight angle,
between you and the photographer,
no smile, eyes narrowed, one leg in front
of the other as if ready to move.
But, it is you that keeps drawing my eye,
and not just because I am thinking of you
now that you are gone (though I am).
It is because in this scene you embody
the way we should present ourselves to the world.