Spring 2006 • Vol. XXVIII No. 2 Poetry |

Smile! It’s School Picture Time

The greasy photographer with his comb-over,with his free plastic comb which breaks immediatelyin my kinked hair, tilts my chin off-kilter.One hand grasps my shoulder, twists me closertowards the camera; his other handtrails my breast, over my sweater.He says say boys stink and stinkycheese socks to make me grin.In science class we learn about the bodyfrom a plastic skeleton. He's strung up with filament and screws, technically sexless,dances with clicks when he's moved.We are focusing on the skull, which sits,detached, on the lab table.There is only one ethmoid bone, says Mr. Shuman,and it has a different consistencythan the other bones in the head.He writes on the board, ETHMOID:DELICATE, SPONGY, LOCATEDBETWEEN THE EYES. The photographer says look at the camera,then look at the birdie, flutters his fingersbetween the lenses, and actually tweets.He squeezes a plastic bulb like blood pressure,smiles as if he's just blown up a building,not lit my visage on fire with flash.How I

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Photo of Erika Meitner
Erika Meitner is the author of six books of poems, including Useful Junk (BOA Editions, 2022) and Holy Moly Carry Me (BOA Editions, 2018), which was the winner of the 2018 National Jewish Book Award and a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. She is currently a professor of English at the University of Wisconsin–Madison.

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Absence

By Erika Meitner

The greasy photographer with his comb-over,with his free plastic comb which breaks immediatelyin my kinked hair, tilts my chin off-kilter.One hand grasps my shoulder, twists me closertowards the camera; his […]

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