I have a picture of us when we are seven
but we aren’t in it. At the time it was taken

we thought we were. We posed with our wide
grins and best-friends-forever certainty. I angled

the camera to capture us in front of a Christmas tree.
All the sparkling tinsel and dangling silver balls aren’t there.

There is only the ceiling and the tip
of the pine needle. There isn’t a star or an angel

on top. I have kept this picture of us for years,
the only one to remember and laugh at what happened

to us then. It was taken before a time when you could
see a picture on a screen, see how it turned out

and decide whether it was worth keeping. I think of you
now and again, the plain peanut butter sandwiches we ate

with apples. You said you were going to be a dentist
when you grew up, and with a fork and a spoon

you determined it was possible I would live
and sent me home with a bag full of Twizzlers and hair bands.

This appeared in the December 2015 issue.

Souvankham Thammavongsa's fourth book of poetry is Cluster (M&S, 2019).

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