Photograph: Svetlana Stalin and her father by Pamela Porter

Poem Title: Photograph: Svetlana Stalin and her father
Poet name: Pamela Porter
Poem: She is seven and smiling, caught
in the crook of her father’s arm.
His hand cups her chin, 
				his sleeve envelops her, 
and she must believe, as small girls do, 
that he is close to God, 
				the sun bright as a watch
				he keeps on a chain.

Behind them waits a regiment of trees,
and behind the trees a wide field, geese, 
a lake white with swans,
and beyond in the far city, 
						verdigris domes
where, inside, candles flame,
because the day has turned to winter
and there is a sound of boots in the streets;
because the trains are full 
				and hunch across the snow
into the open mouth at the edge of the world.

It is what small girls learn, curled
				toward sleep in their beds: 
a man brushes past his daughter 
and without kiss or touch, goes out
into darkness, a door 
						shut quiet behind him.

				If I could light a lantern 
and show her a photograph of her future, 
				the dead refusing silence, 
trains rusting under snow and the blighted
								circle of the moon,
and she carrying his name like iron,
all the questions would remain the same:
who is God?  And what is love to do then?
End of poem.
Credits and bio: Copyright © Pamela Porter
Previously published in The Malahat Review, no. 222, 2012.
Pamela Porter is the author of 14 books of poetry as well as four books for children and young adults and has won numerous awards for her work. She resides with gratitude on the ancestral lands of the W̱SÁNEĆ peoples near Sidney, BC with several horses, one goofy dog, and two barn cats.