A Picture Tells a Thousand Lies

“We conceal so much about ourselves. Like not really looking at other people, this is a necessary survival mechanism. But since poetry is about inner reality as well as outer reality, try this:

Choose a photograph of yourself, or of someone you know: parent, friend, sibling. Describe the external things the photograph shows, and the reality it seems to portray. Then describe why, and how, the photograph is a lie.”

-Kim Addonizio, “Ordinary Genius”

I didn’t write this as a poem. I just kind of let my feelings bleed out onto the page in whatever form they decided to take.

I don’t know how we ended up with a happy family picture. If you look at the photo, sister, brother, sister smile at you. Each wears a combination of red and black. Formal. Christmasy. A good looking family.

I don’t see that in the photograph. There is no beauty in the moment captured. My sister, upon seeing me in my “sexy” dress take my hair out of a ponytail and look cute, flipped off the deep end. All the comparisons between us and the pain it caused came flying out of her that night. She thought herself hideous in my shadow. I had always thought her the beautiful one. We barely got my sister downstairs to let the shutter click a few times.

I hate those pictures and I can’t wear that red dress.


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