by Bert Rock
In a small apartment, on a dusty bookshelf, there is a framed black and white photograph from 1971. In it, a young man holds his first child, his newborn son. Eyes closed, their noses press together as they speak to each other in the first language of touch. The moment is pure, naïve to the future. Like a fawn unaware of the teeth in the forest.
Where is the course of our lives scrawled? Is it scratched in our bones or under the flesh? When he held his son close, could the father smell his legacy on the boy’s skin? Did he know then that one bourbon-bathed morning he would wake up, his family gone? How could his heir know that his father would disown him for another man’s son?
Neither could have foreseen the turns their lives would take, or know the different times they would abandon each other. What was written between them when the flash forged that moment on film? Was it the night so many years later, in a hospital room when the son held his father’s hand as he crossed the bridge from life to death?
Sunlight steals glimpses of the picture, a man and his boy. Their ignorance of the future is sublime, their innocence immortal. Fate is written after our lives, not before.