2012 Howard Nemerov Sonnet Award

Winner: “Old Photographs"
by Gail White
Final Judge: Rhina P. Espaillat

Old Photographs


Here is my mother, smiling, very chic,
come from the alien North at twenty-two
to see her married brother for a week,
but the week turned to months (as weeks will do)
while suitors flocked around. My father, who
was poorest of the lot, prevailed at last,
and when I asked her why, she said “I knew
that he'd be good to me.” Fixed in the past,
I see a couple in their wedding clothes,
a Navy man in uniform, a queen
of Carnival. I see them at the Rose
Parade, the Derby, two that might have seen
the world together. They raised me instead.
I've come to love these strangers, now they're dead.


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