Photographs

There are people in my photo albums that I don’t know. Ghosts, who never alert me to their presence in my home.

When I was a baby so many hands must have held me that they surely smeared my RNA, turning a handprint into a smudge; to interpret, to permeate, to never be wholly in focus and blended like a milkshake. Bits of those nobodies surely sank into me, and bits of me latched onto them, taking away parts I might have needed but will likely never miss—who’s to miss what can’t be known—and so many kisses surely planted on my head that my brain’s cup spilleth over and that is why I am always rocking myself, mimicking the sea, and drowning in the motion.

I have photographs of people who are dead; echoes of souls that never die, just fade and smudge little by little, my ten fingers glossing over them again and again and again thinking:

Am I getting through? Am I touching my true love’s hair?

There are photographs of people I’m not even sure existed. People who came in and were gone so fast one could argue if they had even occurred at all.

Once, I took a picture of an old friend and burned it. It flared fire and shriveled much in a way that a leaf does, curling in, as if trying to hide itself from the flames. Wrapping itself around itself, sacrificing its body to protect some inside I’m not sure quite what.

It felt wrong. Wicked. I never did it again.

Some photos become lost to time. Some I surely don’t remember. Some, I remember, but they fade a little more, every day. Surely becoming ghosts.

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