Saturday, April 17, 2010

I meet the nicest people!

I was out for my usual camera stroll and met Allison, a poet, who was kind enough to sit and visit for a while. As I observed to her in a subsequent email, it is amazing how a stranger can suddenly feel like a friend. Though she confided that she "doesn't photograph well," she indulged me that day. Hopefully her displeasure with the resulting image will compel her to let me try again. And again. This is her gift:

Playing Dead

They had decided—only three. So if the second
hadn't refused, hadn't come undone and bled
its way out of my mother, I wouldn't be alive.
I suppose I should be thankful.
My brother was the third, the charmed one,
born with a slip of beauty as if in compensation
for having followed through. Since I was the last,
I got the hand-me-downs—a few good bones,
the lanky shadow—the makings
of a shabby reproduction. His eyes were dark,
kohl-black; mine were ash-gray, evidence
of something scorched, burnt down—but what
my brother had been given didn't matter:
it seemed he couldn't get enough
of death—after all, he'd followed just behind it,
he knew its raw, wet scent, how cold it was,
how perfect. As children we took baths together;
sitting in the lukewarm water, he'd lean his head
against the tub's cool porcelain, slide down
until the water rinsed his ears, his bottom lip
between his teeth, eyes closed. I pressed my hand
against his chest, held still and waited for the heart
to pause, the churn of blood to turn to silence.
He was playing dead. He called it practicing.

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