Pictures, Some of Them Moving

There’s something she does with her hands
whenever her life goes sour again— 
they rise and flutter like whispers or wings—
and her eyes turn away to watch

the pictures, some of them moving, 
all of them soft and overexposed, 
thin and pale, the details lost
except in the shadows:

in the winter half-light a sobbing child,
stretching her arms to her unyielding mother;

by the side of the road a broken pickup,
filled with everything she owns;

through the smoke or dust a montage of backs,
fading like snapshots spotted with tears.

She was taught absolution depends on contrition, 
on confessions made independent of sin.  
She waits for the future—the flickering lights
that, year by year, recede before her.