Smile

I used to hate photos. 
I used to see haunting reminders,
hanging 
on my walls,
tauntingly.
Snap shots of moments that have come and gone,
lingering there
in the picture frame for me to see 
everyday.
I used to hate that. I used to 
curse that.
Yet I could never really get rid of 
the thing that was already gone. 
Take it down. Take it down.
Take it down.
Remove it now.
Still there, 
smiles frozen, eyes unblinking.
I think I used to keep the photos that I hated so much because 
I wanted that back. 
I wanted that moment to be real 
like it was before.
I’d leave them hanging there, those pictures
of my old friends next to
my old self.
Secretly wanting to jump into 
the print that was 4×6. 
Photos don’t work that way though,
just the books in Blues Clues.
Oh I used to want
so very badly 
to live again in the years past of my electronic albums 
marked with holidays, vacations, and
lazy Sunday’s. 
It used to haunt me 
that the only tangible thing 
from that memory was 
a flat piece of imagery. 
A cheap, 
two dimensional, 
square or rectangular 
reminder of the way things 
used to be.
Just look at it. That’s all
I could do. 
I wanted to smell 
the salt in the air from
that ocean.
I wanted to hear 
the laughter at
that table.
I wanted to feel 
the warmth of
that hug
wrapped around me.
With pictures, I could only stare and
I hated my single sense experience.
Well, I used too hate that.
Now I see differently.

The thing about photographs is,
they’re only a moment and 
so much happens
before and after.
It’s a blessing to have
a single shot of anything 
that depicts something half way to possible perfection 
when every single one of us 
is so deeply flawed.
Photos themselves are painfully flat.
Static characters in the deep, ever-changing, well-rounded novel that is our lives.
A photo just isn’t capable of capturing everything that’s worth remembering.
Good photos make us sad because we think about now and 
how it got so very bad.
Bad photos makes us glad that we never have to go back but 
we forget how much we learned and 
the wealth that those
wretched experiences add.
A picture just cannot say 
that everything before, during, and after the 
posed performances
is still helping
to fill the holes in our souls.
That is why it’s different for me now. 

These flat slivers of memories
that I am newly glad to keep, 
tell me that although it is not the whole story, 
it is a very important piece.
I think what I’ve learned from
staring at these photographs,
is to appreciate
that momentary bliss.
There’s proof in them that
I now see, even if it was
only for a heartbeat, everything was just as it should be.

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