28: Jimmy’s image

when they took our
pictures and printed them
the artists would come
(we never saw them, so I can only imagine)
and put the images into bracings of flowers,
cut paper and foil frames, very much like
glitter or leaf-like aluminum, painted
arrangements of color and shine

they’d cut as closely
to the edges of our photoforms
as they could with scissors or artist razors
or whatever they had for cutting us out
then pasting us onto backgrounds
of painted paper and then arrange us
inside the ornament
finishing the process
of the portraits when we
grew by a year or moved from one
school to another or joined
whatever service or married

these were black and white
photographs so the artists
would paint them
(I think because artists can’t help themselves)
before the process of framing
pinking up our cheeks
providing creamy depth of field
smooth surface texture
and red lips with a dap of white
for the illusion of studio glow

it wasn’t the image or the lacework
framing or even the procedure of making
but all these together, the image,
the meticulous centering,
the paint and shading and leafy frames
and more so where the images
would be placed in the house
or even outside on trees
so that when the neighbors
would come on holidays
or just for a visit some noontime,
they would ask about Jimmy.
Jimmy’s mother would point to Jimmy’s
image and the frame.  She would tell
the neighbors
there’s Jimmy, look at him,
isn’t he beautiful

the visitors would nod, admire
Jimmy, go back to their
tea and talk about the weather
and who’d be turning
another year older soon

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