The Photo Album

Adolescence doesn’t wear a smile
in our old photo album –
stares fixated on unseen lint –
distracted, we three sisters,
all reeling from the cold,
unwell, immobilized…

What is absent is the photographer
whose pointed directions critique
each decision – a derisive repetition
that eats at our souls, each girl
wrestling with self-nurture vs
self-annihilation, landing somewhere
in between – mannequin targets
for male abuse…

Oh, I tried to take up arms, rail against
the dominance, the oppression, but
only succeeded in settling for disconnection,
while one sister turned tricks for attention,
the other retreated into full dependency,
her madness, out of date, nevertheless
relevant – despite our tormenter’s death,
the images are permanently recorded
in that old photo album.

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Permission to write, paint, and imagine are the gifts I gave myself when chronic illness hit - a fair exchange: being for doing. Relevance is an attitude. Humour essential.

33 thoughts on “The Photo Album”

  1. Powerful poem, VJ. Your words convey such an unfair backstory of sisters caught in a storm not of their own making. It’s devastating what photos can show us – reflections of the photographer as well.

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  2. Love this line, “Adolescence doesn’t wear a smile / in our old photo album”. I think this is universal. I remember being photographed with my sister and my two grandmothers (who I adored) when I was about 14. It was Christmas and I was so sullen, angst of youth and rounded shoulders told the whole story.

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