Black and White Photo, 1953

Older brother
first born, golden child
cosseted and loved
posed on the front steps
shining brightly
reflecting hopes and dreams
of our immigrant parents
standing erect, proud, smiling
bursting with their expectations for a good life
in their new land of promise


Primped and polished, hair pomaded
sharp suit, white shirt, bow tie
handkerchief folded, tipping his pocket
jacket buttoned precisely in the center


I ache when I see him
this child destined to be somebody
until his life turned to dross
never able to fulfill his potential
marred by the cruel illness that hit him in adolescence
that the little blue pills could not cure
our family given a concurrent life sentence


Would that I could freeze
that moment on the steps
and keep him forever
the handsome smiling boy
in the suit and bow tie,
folded handkerchief in his pocket
with his whole life,
still glittering in front of him



Editor’s Note: This poem is one of a few published to Refuat Hanefesh by Joanne touching on the life of her brother and his mental illness. Please see Joanne’s author page for further moving pieces and check back for the continued publishing of Joanne’s work.


Joanne Jagoda
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