Faded in black in white, about nineteen-thirty,
Two boys sit on a window ledge, that house,
Narrow street between mountains, back, front,
A valley that smells of coal dust and soap,
Where the women polish the doorsteps daily
Dark red, down on their knees in gossip.
This photograph says so much about them,
Even then. My uncle sits prim and nervous
Worried he may slip from his perch,
Buttoned up in his best suit and collar
Ready for chapel and prayers I suppose.
His round face in glasses, held stiff.
While my father leans sideways, younger
By two years, swinging a leg and squinting
With the sun in his eyes and his knees all scuffed.
Dreaming of music and organ pipes
And the catapult hidden in his Sunday pocket,
A strong wish to be off there and up in the hills.
These brothers stayed like this all their lives
Never truly following the same paths;
One toeing the line for all he was worth
The other refusing to break his own rules,
Always the wild one up in the hills
Frustrated by all the restrictions of life.