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  • Hayley Bernier

“Family Snapshot, 1998, Lost in Storage”

This poem was originally published on The Pittsburgher’s predecessor, The Dog Door Cultural.

To the left is a low stone wall,

the remains of the house’s old foundation.

The grass should be wholly green—

gardening feet have created

patched brown in some places.

In a row at the bottom,

six feet. To the right, a slate

stone path, walking away.

I am in my mother’s arms

(it could have been my father’s)

and I have bangs and a ponytail,

pink shirt and unfortunate frowning face.

The shadows of the trees behind us

lean across our faces,

my sister, father, mother and I.

Everyone else is smiling their photograph

smiles, rosy on the clear summer’s day.

I am unhappy because I am scared

of the photographer,

because I was scared of all

men when I was that young.

My mother always told me that I have

an excellent scowl,

and this may be one

of the first dozen, or hundred

of times I didn’t want to be looked at.

If you check the top left corner,

just there, where the green leaves

turn up their paler faces,

you can still see

a mouth round with “no!” ▲

Hayley Bernier is currently (remotely) finishing up her poetry dissertation to get her MSc in Creative Writing at the University of Edinburgh.

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