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Perfectly posed, meticulously placed,
like pieces of a puzzle,
curves and edges depend on each other.
A family molded and conformed,
to the expectations of others.
Each person labeled, placed in a box,
but anything outside of the contents description,
set aside in a miscellaneous container, to be “addressed later.”
shelved away in our memory,
but then left to collect dust, fine particles powdering its surface,
to be enveloped in cobwebs, concealed in their webbing, obscured by their constraints,
and to be eventually,
Like sugar-cookie cutters, creating simple, childlike shapes,
the excess dough, outside of the sharp edges,
is always thrown away.
For what would we need this superfluous?
All we desire is the carefully cut heart, or star, or crescent,
sprinkled with powdered white sugar, warm and delicious.
No one wants the messy part.
Did you know?
Melinda, the 25-year old cousin in the right hand corner,
the admired one, studying for her Master’s in Chemical Engineering,
she likes to paint.
She wanted to be an art major, but that was years ago,
before the uncle in the upper left told her that she’d never make money that way,
that he would never support this choice,
that she would never succeed by following her dream.
He closed the lid on her neat, simple, little box,
Organized so that it would never be more than
He could understand.
Because he was afraid.
Afraid to let go, afraid of anything he could not control,
Afraid of something larger than the limits of a family snapshot
that will never tell their story.
A picture that is worth 1,000
worthless, empty words.
Words that allow only the plastered smiles
love lost, because it could not be contained within the lines of a photograph.