Gayatri

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.

Souvankham Thammavongsa’s “Gayatri” first appeared in the November 2015 issue of The Walrus, selected by Poetry In Voice Creative Director Damian Rogers in her role as poetry editor there.