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Betrayal; Photo Album by Eileen Patterson


Our belly's flat with hunger, our skin cracks from cold,

we shiver and laugh when we see the breath come out

of our mouths. The five of us on the couch, wearing winter

coats, blankets tucked everywhere. Waiting for my uncle

to pick me up. because I am the weak child.

There is silence in the car.

They buy fast food, my mouth salivating, hunger

devours me. I refuse to eat. At the house they try again,

I shake my head no, but I know as soon as they leave the room,

I’ll swallow it whole. Betrayal is ok if no one sees.

Behind, brothers and sisters in a house of winter, with empty

bellies and mouths that form cold breaths like blowing bubbles.

Photo Album

Two photos lay in my hands heavy as heartaches.

Father and daughter stand alone in their frames

in that black and white past.

Father stands in uniform, the Army hat tilts to the right,

his legs apart, arms at his side, in the right hand a cigarette

dangles. He smirks.

Did he take the photo of me, the girl trapped in the black

and white?

There is a door behind me I stand against its frame

hands folded rigidly; I eye the camera as if I was looking

into the future.

I talk to the child in the photo.

Good girl stay near an exit find your way out of the black

and white scars.

Do something with your black and white dress.

Make the hem bounce,

dance off the lens,

stand on your toes with your shiny black

buckled shoes.


Leap out of the past.


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