Two poems by Carla Schwartz

Lenses into Time
      1. 1934, Germany
You, in your linen dress, must be three,
your brother, in his lederhosen, two.
Your arm rests around him
like he’s your best pal, and he is,
or will be. His face is yours, only magnified —
his head, watermelon, to your cantaloupe.
You hug him to you while you smile slyly,
your brother, mesmerized.
Maybe the photographer hung a sausage
or a stuffed elephant, something,
that his lens could capture such innocence.
This is when you had time to pose,
smiles that could not imagine
a warm November night —
the shrieks,
the ash,
the black eagles striking glass.
      2. 1951, Miami
Tanned, you stand side-by-side,
your arm reaches around his back.
He’s the taller now, your “little brother”
You, a young beauty, he, boyish, still.
Squinting, still looking twinned,
glass shards, more than half your young lives ago,
you both look happy.
      3. Crystal ball
You won’t go to medical school,
even though you long to,
but your brother, like your father, and grandfather, will.
Instead, you’ll tackle Fermat’s last theorem
and fend for yourself.
When at 32, a Mommy,
organic compounds tucked in your head,
your own money in the bank now, you apply,
the med school says woman, says too old,
again, glass, this time, ceiling,
as you hide your tears,
dreams, shattered
and don’t break down
in front of your girls.
      4. 2000, Madison
There you two are again, seated on a couch,
your arm around your brother’s shoulder once more.
He snakes one hand around the stem, a crystal goblet
he steadies on his thigh, leans the water
away from you — what might be a toast
were he able to smile.
Behind his large glasses,
his head, shrunken now.
His old tie-dyed T fits him like a dress,
his gray knees — bent, swollen, rubbery.
The camera flash twinkles
in both of your glasses.
In a few years, you will be the shrunken one,
but for now, still rosy-and full-cheeked,
you try not to break down, this day, not to crack
before your little brother,
who, wan as an old lizard,
clasps the remote with his other hand,
as if the glass of the television screen,
is all that separates him
from the next world.
Portrait of One Man as Forest, Petrified
Stones flecked with saltpeter,
streams of whiskey,
narcissus hunched to the drink,
old growth downed by winds —
pines, oaks — branches, limbs.
Rabbit bones, licked clean
scattered on the forest floor.
I pick up two. Trying to conjure,
I clap them together.
They play hollow, flat.

Filmmaker and photographer Carla Schwartz’ poems have been widely published 
and anthologized, including in The Practicing Poet (Diane Lockward, Ed), and in her second collection, Intimacy with the Wind, (Finishing Line, 2017). Her CB99videos youtube channel has 2,000,000+ views. Learn more at, or find her @cb99videos on Instagram, Twitter, and Youtube.