gaze

i found your photograph today
in black and white and browned
with old age, but secure in the
fire-safe box, tucked between
photocopies of old passports, under
mom’s gold-foiled jewelry boxes

i immediately turned it over
and read your birthdate
and name and your age
at the time the photo was taken
all written in dad’s neat script

and then turned it back to you
three months and seven days old
uncomfortably propped up
in a round plastic wicker chair

your feet pointed at the camera
both legs bent, but only the right
one raised, the sole pale, almost
as white as your sleeveless top
fastened by knotted shoulder straps

your hands are hidden, but your face
is unobstructed, save for the crease
running down the slight gap between
right eye and nose and along the corner
of your closed, unhappy mouth

and the almost-black irises of your eyes
are shifted right, never meeting my gaze

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