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Petrified Papers This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

Crooked shingles, rotted thresholds, and window panes in bits
greet me as I enter the abandoned home.
On the ground, sprawled out on the kitchen tiles like last year's leaves
are photographs encapsulating the life of a couple I never knew.
Some monochromatic, some bursting with faded colors, and all equally battered.
I reach for two placed close by one another.

A Buick Marquette putts behind the two while they sit in wrought iron chairs.
In front of the freshly painted house,
a young woman models a floral, jeweled flapper dress
ethereally draped on her shoulders, masking her physique.
Her man sits beside her, embracing her hand.
He sports a freshly pressed pinstripe suit
and a fedora with a brim that rests on his head like a halo--
both of which would warm his lover as they cruise home.
The two of them together share a smile,
one that shines through the black and white
and leaps through time, nearly lighting the room.

A wine colored Buick Regal hums in the background of the next picture: as they lounge
in ghastly neon chairs with gleaming aluminum skeletons.
Polished glass from windows reflect the sun into the lens.
His wife now bears a jade tracksuit, her arm intertwined with his
and the fedora he wore now slouches on the head of a little boy
beaming with excitement and playing Al Capone.
You can tell that the miles the duo cruised
were intricately carved into the contours of their faces--
her hair has lost its color and his fled from his head.
One thing that hasn’t dimmed are their grins,
as white and youthful as when they first met.

Placing the photos in the oak cupboard
I turn and walk through the worn down hall,
pass through the used doorway
and push the nail on a shutter back into the wall.
I climb into my car
and coast past the for sale sign by the tin mailbox
                                                                                                                        




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