In every family photograph

I see what isn’t there,

the change in my face,

my father’s gestures,

my mother’s hair.

I search through the box of photographs

for evidence. The fights we didn’t hear.

The book and its damning inscription.

Do I imagine the rift in the photograph,

the four of us on the couch in Texas at Grandpa’s house?

Mom is holding me still

her hands on my upper arms

as I lean toward the edge of the frame.

Eddie is resting against Dad,

his whole body balanced,

a weight on my father’s knee.

Dad leans away.

Mom looks dazed, her smile as static

as the turned up ends of her plastered hair.

I read an article years ago about how you could

tell which Hollywood stars were breaking up

by paying attention to body language in candid photographs.

Do I imagine our demise

in the way my parents lean away from each other,

in the way my brother tries to hold them still,

in the way I struggle to escape?


by Lori Gravley

Lori Gravley writes poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction. She earned her MFA from the University of Texas at El Paso. She has published poems and essays in a variety of journals, including Flights, Ekphrasis, and Mock Turtle Zine. She has work forthcoming in Crack the Spine and I-70 Review. She lives just outside of Yellow Springs, Ohio between a meadow and a cornfield.

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