Family Photos

I memorize your profile
as you carelessly skim Dostoyevsky
on the subway
and that fat woman’s
flab drapes over your leg.

From the silver nitrate
Rorschach blots winding
up your freckled forearm, I see
35 mm photographs,
still dripping,
stabbed into your wall,
from your road trip with your Tuesday fling
New York to Michigan and back again.

Your water bottle is vodka
and your pill bottle weed
and I’ve seen your copper tresses pirouette
from the water tower of a sixteen-floor rooftop
rolling high, free fall
your emaciated network of brittle
bones quivering
while I bite my nails from the cement.

I’ve seen it all
though we’re strangers.

But the way I know you suck
too greedily
at the crimson stained filter of your joint
and the way I can draw a contour of that
blurred self-taken polaroid
of your naked breasts,
barely distinguishable from
your twenty-four jagged, protruding ribs, sharpied:
“subject 001,”
are the same reasons that I can tell
you’ll smell like cloves and tobacco and burnt sugar
when I tuck you into your bed
when I tuck Jack into his shelf
when I brush my teeth, wiggle into jammies
when I go to bed
and whisper:
I love

All this and I have yet to say hello

Emma Smith, Age 18, Grade 12, Hunter College High School, Gold Key

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