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32 Teeth photo

picture me in the aperture
20 years not old
enough to drink
what i mixed behind the bar
20 years from my mother’s breast
is a lifetime in the gaze

of a man that could be my daddy’s friend
says he’ll take his old fashioned
down the crease of my spine
asks how did i get my skin
to trap the light like that says it kills
him to see a pretty thing he can’t break
quickly as his wife comes back from changing
the baby he tells me later should have been ours

white man in a mister rogers sweater
holding a camera comes early
on my shift saying he’s taking pictures
for a calendar of the little
five points neighborhood would i like
to be a part of it

i bend to his direction
i ask if i could be june
my birth month he says all days any days
for a smile like mine tells me
fold your arms like this across the counter
that’s it such a stunning girl
the way you wear your hair so natural
you look like you could be foxy
brown straight from the seventies, girl

i picture my shoulders smoothing the angles
of his lens brown light bending
kaleidoscopic picture my mother hanging me
against the wall waiting for my month to come like a horizon
i always told you you should model always
knew someone would discover you baby

two weeks: he hands me my face
in a brown envelope
two photos: one with me better than i’ve ever seen
before my head haloed by bar lights
and cocktail glasses mouth like a palette of pearl
the second the same save for my breasts
bulboused        pixelated        (re)imagined

dolloped on the surface like dough left to rise
i remember the arch of my smile bending higher
when he said
oh you can do better than that for me smile
like you really mean it smile
like the whole world will see it

two weeks: mama asks for the day
the calendar’s coming
oh mama        i forgot to tell
you he never came


image: David Wright