Paul Lisicky

Paul Lisicky does not provide the photograph with this flash, which plays with the past moment of the snapshot, and the future that the writer knows but the couple on the beach does not.

Paul Lisicky, “Snapshot, Harvey Cedars: 1948,” The Madison Review

My mother touches her forehead, throwing her green eyes into shade. Her mouth is pink, her hair blond like wheat. She is tanned. She is the best-looking woman on the beach, only she will never recognize it. She wraps her long body in an aqua sarong and winces, believes her hips are a bell. Even now she is counting, waiting for the camera to flicker shut.

My father’s arm weights down her shoulder. He is muscular, his stomach flat as a pan. He looks full ahead, pretending he is with my mother, but already is in in Florida, developing new cities, pumping dead mangrove full of sand. He sees himself building, building. He will be healthy. He will have good fortune. And years in the future, after his Army buddies will have grown soft and womanish, all his hard work will pay off: People will remember his name.

Their shoulders touch. Their pose says: this is how young couples are supposed to look – see, aren’t we the lucky ones? But my mother’s head is tilted. What is she looking at? Is she gazing at the tennis player by the outdoor shower, the one with the gentle hands, the one who will teach her to unlearn things? Or can she already hear the gun which my father will press into his forehead, twenty years away?