dad the photographer

i can recall only
the look of your camera,
a canon, i think,
leather around the base
and so heavy
the big bulky flash
that attached to the top

i wish i could remember
every moment you
aimed that lens at me
before i learned
to shy away

wonder what expression
you made as you focused
on the pudgy face
of your first born daughter

i imagine a toothpick in
one corner of your mouth
held between teeth exposed
as you squinted one eye
at the viewfinder

we all look a little
solemn in most of
those old nostalgic
photos

truth is
it’s taken a long time
for us to learn to smile
at each other
through a lens
or just in the same room
i’m glad to have
evidence, now, as a grown
woman, that we’ve
been practicing.

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