MUSED Literary Magazine.

Baby Picture

Sharon Larsen

The ad said, “Free Portrait Sitting,”
and so I called,
made an appointment.
How else to afford a photo
of my beautiful baby girl?
Living in a trailer,
and when the bills were paid
not enough left
to buy a pack of gum.
The man was friendly,
coaxed my child to smile
with squeaky toys and gentle words.
Two weeks later, he was back
with a wonderful array.
Here she was laughing—
I could almost hear her.
Her strawberry blonde hair
curled atop her head.
I found it hard to choose
from poses spread over our kitchen table.
This one, I thought.
But wait.
The sitting was free, the man explained,
but the photos were not.
He quoted a price –
much more than I could pay,
much more than a pack of gum.
The man was persuasive, insistent
and, finally, threatening.
He ignored my tears,
stuffed my child’s photos
back in his leather bag.
He even slammed the door.
I remember feeling violated.
But there was more to come.
When I went for mail that day,
I found my baby’s portraits
ripped into pieces
lying on the ground
at the base of our mailbox.