I Keep Them As If They Were Poems

With the house I bought
Photographs from the past
Forgotten names left behind
Black and white cantankerous faces
Yellowish dames looking too kind
Unknown living inside my walls

Serene they emerge from the shadows
Of drawers, shelves and armoires
Conquering their own strongholds
Steadily acquiring certain rights
Against the ravage of the winds
Against the ignominy of the night


(Countess of Mangualde, courtesy of her great-niece.)


27 thoughts on “I Keep Them As If They Were Poems

  1. Such a beautiful poem!
    Steadily acquiring certain rights

    They came with the house. I once found a very nice old (about 1900) family portrait behind the frame of a picture that was left behind by previous owners, it was published later in a local magazine about cultural history and becuase they were recognized, the people got names.
    So this is a picture of the countess?

    1. Yes. She was the wife of the most important anti-republican fighter, in Portugal. Time must be the same (circa 1900), since Portuguese Republic started in 1910. In fact, I often send the pictures to the family but there are a few of them more territorial than sentimental…

    1. I treasure lots of stories related with old pictures and somehow they make a lot of sense when I try to fit them in my own life. Thanks a lot, Jingle!

    1. It is nice but at the same time old pictures pose a problem: what to do with them? Anyway, destroying is condemning them to oblivion, a very nasty thing to do…

    1. At some stage I was writing and remembered your own photo with your mother and your incredible moving story… They speak a lot, indeed. Hugs!

    1. It’s sad to think about that possibility… I always try to discover who they are. I feel captivated by their stories and talk about them from time to time. I am lucky I can return “my” old pictures to the right family, but I can just imagine what happens to so many other old pictures lost a bit everywhere. Thanks, Victoria.

  2. Such a nice idea…”Unknown living inside my walls” great imagery. I like the idea of past spirits hanging around, keeping us company. or haunting us. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Wonderful. I’ve seen stories of old houses that hold old photos in their walls. Surfacing again to show themselves to the world again. Beautiful imagery!

    1. Thanks, Bodhirose. Maybe I should explain here that the pictures I keep finding are not from the countess herself but of her niece and other people related to her. It was easier for me to use this picture since I had already published it before with her great-niece approval. Actually, the picture in question is the cover of the countess’ biography.

  4. What a great story, Seabell–just wonderful. I especially love to hear of the connection you have with the family and have even returned photos to them. I’m sure they appreciate your sensitivity to their family’s photos.

    She’s a pretty girl that Countess.

  5. I think she’s pretty too. The book is “Memories of the Countess of Mangualde”, but I’m almost sure that there’s no English version. Anyway, she would be a regular wife and mother if History hadn’t change her life. She has done brave things like accompanying her husband during the war opposing republican and monarchic. Thinking of it, that’s an interesting theme to write about: how events change our own life…

    1. Yes, amazing how life events can have such a deep and profound impact on our lives. The more I find out about her, the more I like her.

      I love her story and how you are a part of it too.

    1. Yellow does nothing to one’s own looks… Anyway, she was pretty and brave. Leaving her home and children to be with her husband on the battlefield is a rather unusual option in a very traditional society and traditional times. Thanks, Evelyn!

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