First Portrait

Before I turn three, my parents hire
a photographer from a local studio to come
and take pictures of us.

We've just moved to a new city, to a small
apartment behind the post office,
and are waiting to transfer

to a proper home—that's what my father says.
I don't know why they want to memorialize
this time. I only remember

the terror of the flash
bulb going off above my face—a rip in the air,
before the moment our faces are fixed on film.

In the one where it is just
me, I press a clutch of dry flowers to my chest.
I have not yet learned how to properly smile.

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