He Wants to Take Your Picture by Susan “Sass” Brown

And why not? You’re young and want
to be hung on his wall like the others,
wrapped in translucent pink chiffon.
You know what your mother would say:
he’s not interested in your face.
But you could be his assistant one day,
fall in love over darkroom trays
of Dektol. So you agree to come
after business hours, even though
the room is empty when you arrive
and he asks you to wear his terry robe.

Back-dropped in white, breasts bound by gauze,
you try to relax as he positions you,
ties scarves to a fan and dims the lights.
Only when he starts to rub your arms
do you see he’s slipped his own shirt off.
He says you have talent,
later he’ll shoot portraits for your mother.

These pictures lie. Their poses, your smile
in soft light, the hard fact of your nipples
are not proof, no more than his insistence:
It will feel good, you know you want to,
as if the logic of his hands was irrefutable.

A photo can take and be taken.
Though you leave before dark, before
he can slide a hand between your thighs,
you must have curled up later, alone
in your bed, as if you could make your body
disappear like the contact prints
you tucked behind your mirror.
You will keep them like documents, see them
instead of your reflection: captured,
permanent as the fear of being pried open.

« back