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Polaroid, 1976 MAG
Fifteencandles on the cake that year.
Crepe-paper streamers Mother bought
with herAvon money, and balloons, too.
I stand in the center, with theknife,
Flanked by my father holding a cup for his Copenhagen.
A stickysmell like sour barley
wafts from a laugh too loud to be sincere ...
But Ismile and hold the knife and look into the camera
bracing myself for thebrilliant flash
then the blind spot.
Mother smiles behind me in herbuttercream-colored dress,
her hair in wings,
cradling a coffee cup shewill offer to Dad.
Fourteen years I inhabited that hatedkitchen,
holding the knife just above the surface.
But that year, as thecamera flashed,
and I felt the knife finally penetrate the layers,
I didnot smile