The Space She Leaves


—after the photo “The Tuileries Gardens, 1980” by André Kertész


The chair’s shadow leans against a stone

column in the foreground of the photo. Metal


flakes from the chair’s round rusted seat.

With curved arms frail as sandpiper legs,


it gestures the feeble welcome it has

extended for decades. In the background,


a young girl—black wool coat tented

above stockings pulled knee-high—


bounds away from the dark pant leg

of her mother, whose body straddles


the worlds existing within and without

the photo’s margins. The chair seems


to watch them as it suns itself, basking

in Tuileries Gardens on a day that could be


any other day, but isn’t. On this day

a young girl runs from her mother,


tests the freedom that comes with distance,

looks back to watch what fills the space


she leaves behind. On this day, a mother

straddles two worlds for her daughter,


who cannot see the woman, caught

by a camera’s lens, turning away.







Photo Source: Phowi

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About Author

Bernadette Geyer's poems have appeared in Oxford American, Barn Owl Review, North American Review, Verse Daily, and elsewhere. She is the recipient of a 2010 Strauss Fellowship from the Arts Council of Fairfax County, and works as a freelance writer/editor in the Washington, DC, area.


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