For Caoimhe, born September 12, 2007. Her name is pronounced KWEE-veh, (more or less), and it means “grace.” Caoimhe is Liam’s sister. The Ken Burns Effect is a default setting on Apple’s iPhoto, which pans and zooms through a photo album to make it look like a movie.
KEN BURNS EFFECT
You yawn, you doze, you blink and gaze,
You pout and grasp your granny’s thumb.
To learn your strength, your knuckles squeeze
That wrinkled hand that shields your bum.
Twelve feelings float across your face,
Twelve photos glide across my screen.
The frown, the fist, the curling lip:
You haven’t learned to hide or preen.
These pictures bring me cells, not bits:
Your pudding rolls, your morning mewl
I sniff your powder-cotton smell
I nibble toes, kiss dewdrop drool
Your belly, with its shallow tides,
Is springy silk, like rising dough.
I gnaw my lip. I’m saving breath
To leave more air untouched for you.
“O child of grace, of butter made,”
Our Irish mothers used to say.
You store ten thousand furled-up lives
Which stories will you tell some day?
For you, I pause my modern march
To learn again what I forget:
The dazzle in a breath, a toe.
You teach me to stay here—and yet
I flip ahead. Who will you be
At fifty-four? At seventeen?
O child of grace, your slideshow pans,
And I cast you, star of my own dreams.