Family Matters
by Margaret Rozga

In the photograph dated a year before
I was born, my mother, dressed for a party,
Sits at the edge of a garden, the turquoise
Skirt of her cotton dress flared out
In a twist of a circle around her.  

No other party-goers appear in the picture.

The trim across the bodice is stark white,
Fresh white the vertical trim along wide shoulder straps
Bold white the plastic frames of her sunglasses
A blush on her cheeks, hair dark, mouth open as if
About to speak.  You can’t photograph words.

Vines crisscross in the distance behind her
Like a giant green net in which she is caught
Unwilling.  Unable to smile, unable to resist
Or assert her desire to be out of the field
Where ripe melon mounds mark the landscape.

What photographer holds her here?  Dad?
Oh, what if he had let her go?


Margaret Rozga has published poems and essays in anthologies
and journals including the
Apple Valley Review, Out of Line, Main
Channel Voices
, Passager, the Humanist, and Wisconsin Magazine
of History
.  She has been a resident at the Sitka Center for Art and
Ecology and the Ragdale Foundation.  Her play
March On
Milwaukee: A Memoir of the Open Housing Protests
has been
produced four times since its premier in April 2007.  
Two Hundred
Nights and One Day
, a collection of poems based on material in the
play, will be released in February 2009 by Benu Press.

On “Family Matters”:
The picture that prompted this particular poem was not actually
taken by a family member.  But my dad was an amateur photo-
grapher, and some of my best childhood memories are of my
sisters, brother, and me all helping my very patient father in his

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Apple Valley Review:
A Journal of Contemporary

ISSN 1931-3888

Volume 3, Number 2
(Fall 2008)

Copyright © 2008
by Leah Browning, Editor.  

All future rights to material
published in the
Valley Review
are retained
by the individual authors
and artists.