Natasha Trethewey

Picture Gallery

In a tight corner of the house, we’d kept
the light-up portraits of Kennedy and King,
side by side, long after the bulbs burned out —

cords tangling on the floor, and the patina
of rust slowly taking the filigreed frames.

Then my grandmother wanted more. Art —
something beautiful to look at, she said.
At the fabric store she bought bolts of cloth

printed with natural scenes — far-off views
of mountains, owls on snowy-boughs.

I donated the scenic backdrop that came
with a model horse — a yellowed vista
of wheat fields, a wagon, and one long road.

Back home, we gathered pinecones 
and branches, staple and glue, then hung

the fabric, big as windows, in the dark
hallway. The fresh boughs we stapled on
stuck out in relief. We breathed green air,

and the owls — instead — peered in at us,
our lives suddenly beautiful, then.