“The Art of Preservation” by Cheryl Spinner

The children of Mann,
bare bodied and smug,
lie trapped inside a glossy print.

The oldest, a boy
stands in the center,
a sliver of a waistband peaks out.
He’s covered down there,
but that doesn’t really matter
because the photograph
is so focused on his gangly torso
that the echo of a pant is likely to be missed.

The two sisters, bare-chested as well,
lack the pants of the brother.

The blonde girl,
skewed to the very left of the picture
as if she were some kind of after thought,
steals the photo that wanted to forget her.
Unlike her brown haired siblings,
who stand to her right cross armed
and looking straight into the camera,
she tilts her body to the side.
Her arms are bent and glued to her waist,
while she sucks in her tummy and puffs up her chest
The little girl with the yellow hair and heavily lidded eyes.

She’s grown up now.
The long curls are gone.
They’ve been replaced by a shoulder length bob
and severe bangs that cut across her face.
So much of her has changed
That it’s hard to imagine that little girl in the picture used to be her once.
The rounded cheeks, the glowing skin: all gone.
And that heightened sexuality of her youth, that’s gone too.

Cheryl Spinner currently lives in Durham, N.C., where she is a doctoral student in the English Department at Duke University. She received her Master's Degree in English at Georgetown University in the spring of 2010. A native of Queens, N.Y., her writing intertwines yiddishe kopf with a certain kind of New Yawk flair. You can follow her research blog at electricladieszap.wordpress.com.