i wouldn’t call it an altar

it’s less official
merely a shelf of irreplaceable things

two garnets
the twins’ birth stones

a statue sculpted
by a local artist named mckeown
of me
holding the boys
right after they were born

a silver piece from my brother

a two dollar bill from my grandfather

memaw’s watch and engagement ring

a rosary i bought when i was 10 from a thrift store because it spoke to me

and a small framed photograph
of my mother and father
taken after a late night of playing rook
with friends

him standing behind her
when they were in love

my father eyes are full of whiskey
my mother sober as a baptist judge
and you can tell by the way
she cradles his hands
around her waist
that she is tired
and keenly aware
all things are fleeting

it wasn’t until this day i noticed
they are posed
by the back door of our long ago little house
in the picture

as if they are leaving