Ambivalence and On Thinking About Atonement with a Parent

Johanna Shapiro, PhD

Poetry is meant to move below and beyond the surface of things. Take the following poems, for example. One is about numbers, the other about photos, both ordinary and straightforward “things,” small and unworthy of much notice. We say, “That is a room number; it identifies the location of a room” or “That is a photograph-me at 16 in 1965.” But these poems help us understand that everything matters if we are paying attention. Both numbers and photographs have an ineluctable relationship with time. Numbers are used to mark the passing of time, to identify unique moments in time. Photos likewise remind us of time gone by. In a sense, both are mementomori.

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