National Poetry Month Poem-a-Week: Rebecca Schumejda’s “In This Picture”

April 16, 2011

Rebecca Schumejda, her Dad, and a friend.

I met Rebecca Schumejda a few weeks ago at her reading at the Ryerss Museum in Fox Chase, PA.  She had driven down from New York’s Hudson Valley and had been in an accident, which she handled with wit and grace.  I was not familiar with her work before.  I found it touching and often as self-deprecatingly funny as her asides during the reading.

Her poems are about loss and longing, gardening and dishwashing, motherhood and marriage — and not a few of them are about the seedy side of life.  (Rebecca once co-owned a pool hall.)

Rebecca Schumejda is the author of Falling Forward, a full-length collection of poems (2009); and several chapbooks, including The Map of Our Garden (2009); Dream Big Work Harder (2006); The Tear Duct of the Storm (2001); and the postcard poem “Logic.”  She received her MA in Poetics and Creative Writing from San Francisco State University and her BA in English and Creative Writing from SUNY New Paltz.

You can read more about Rebecca’s poetry at http://www.rebeccaschumejda.com/

Schumejda’s poem “In This Picture” was written after she found a photograph of her father some time after he died and her own daughter was born.  The photo of Rebecca and her father was taken at the end of a fishing trip.  I like the simplicity of this poem and the short lines, which calls to mind the shortness of breath one gets when faced with loss.

It also made me think of a dear friend whose father passed away ten years ago today; so this is for her, and for Rebecca who wrote the poem, and for everyone who has lost a parent or loved one.

Here is Rebecca Schumejda’s poem

“In This Picture”

 

Never will you

bait the hook

for the child

floundering

inside me.

 

In this picture

we sandwich

a blue fish.

 

In this picture

we both wear

stubborn noses.

 

In this picture

you smell like

saltwater.

 

In this picture

is all I have

left of you.

 

I am seven

and in love

with you, forever.

 

In this picture

your heart

was not weak.

 

In this picture

no tombstones,

just fishhooks.

 

Someday, curious,

your grandchild

will ask

who you were

and I will say

in this picture

you were Neptune,

god of the sea.

 


–Rebecca Schumejda

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