THE AWARD-WINNING BOOK BY JOEL BROWN
See the family.
See the family sit on the grey carpet.
See the dog: the dog’s eyes are black and shiny.
See the father: he wears smudges of light
on his glasses.
See the girl on the right: she wears her stepmother’s shirt.
See the girl on the left: she wears a beaded necklace
she made herself.
See how she reaches over her mother’s shoulder
to claim her younger brother.
You cannot see the photographer. Her name is Bomber.
See the younger brother: he wears corduroy overalls
and sets his teeth on edge.
See the mother: she wears a tight smile
and cowboy boots; they are a show of strength.
See the girl on the right: she wishes she were
the father’s only one
and if not that, then the empty space.
Read her raised eyebrows.
See the girl on the left: she knows better
how to do all of this.
Read her focused eyes.
See the boy: the second after the shutter clicks,
he will leap up and run.
See how the mother longs to leap up and run, too.
although not with the child.
See how the father is hoping that Bomber is happy.
See how happy the dog is.
The dog’s name is Tim: see how close
he lies to the dark window.
In four years he will slump gently into death.
The boy will name the dog Timmy Tumor.
The girl on the left will be strong for her mother.
The father will make the arrangements.
The girl on the right will feel left out.
Bomber will marry a good man.
He will have two Russian wolfhounds
and a Jeep Cherokee.
They will be happy and live a simple life.
See the boy’s small thick hands.
See how the mother and her daughter look
to the boy.
See how the father and his daughter look to Bomber.
Wonder what the boy looks to.
See the darkness, how it caresses
the panes of the leaded glass windows.
First appeared in Waxing and Waning, Issue 7, 2020