Smudging By Amanda Blake

I’ve kept the photo albums you sent
not on a bookshelf inside my house,

(There is no welcome mat for you)
but in the pocket of my passenger-side door.

No one looks at them and their pages
are sticking together better than we did.

Only once there was a wreck, a disagreement
between metals, lives smeared across four lanes,

Did I let my fingers reach, peel apart,
brush against faces and places I left.

Alone in my car, a family reunion.

————————————-

Easter Greetings, April 15th, 2003
What would someone versed in kinesics think
if I slid this photo into their palm?
What would they see in the tilt of my torso,
the ridged sinew of your hands,
the smiles Duchenne would want nothing to do with?

I think you are doing what your parents taught you,
that we’re all doing what our parents taught us.
Forty-six years into it and you still didn’t know
who you were or
who you wanted to be or
which way was up or
which rock bottom was final.

It would turn out that none are final.
The Earth is rock until it’s not
and then it’s magma.
And you would call it gardening
as you dug straight
down.

It wouldn’t take an expert in body language
to judge your locked arms and
see that they were trained to pull,
soil from the earth, hair from a scalp,
that they were too tense even when
they meant to cradle.

Hungry Baby!, Oct. 4th, 1997
Not a glint of teeth,
even the camera knows
you’re over this. My
novelty is gone.

Your eyes say you are
dry-drowning.
Water moves beneath your skin,
the pools above the ridges of your cheeks
draining down into my mouth.

Was this the day I became proud-toothed,
marked your areola with a forget-me-not?
You say I was trying to chew my way in.
I say I was learning how to give-and-take.

I stripped the gold from your hair
and tugged loose your skin.
You pressed nails into a scalp that was not yours,
left lacerations that still twinge,
always reminders of what we
(un)willingly exchanged.

Alicia and Baby A., June ?, 1997
I am still new,
Cheerio-mouthed,
red-headed but not yet a step-child.

Your teeth,
Prized Possessions,
are glaring-white
between lips a shade
no one warned you wasn’t
your colour.

It is the one picture of us
in which we don’t look
like we’ve been cut,
propped, tied, arranged,
amaryllis and asphodel.

Your face is blurred,
smeared through time.
You yelled often
that you didn’t know how
to sit still, but I
don’t think you knew
how to get anywhere, either.

So maybe you were busy
not sitting or maybe that’s
really your face, really you
blurred on every layer.

One of my feet,
twenty-six twig bones
wrapped in tissue paper-flesh
wrapped in clean lace,
blurs with you.

————————————-

Change lanes,
don’t meet the gaze of my outline wavering in the rearview,
look instead at the wreckage,
intrude on tragedy until miles force privacy.

And these pictures keep riding with me
past all this
American landscape
has to offer.

Maybe one day we’ll pass the right
Cow field “antique shoppe” parking lot
pedestrian church pastel-painted beach town
church 7-Eleven church no-tell motel Unitarian church
and I’ll offer those photos to the open window.

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