Smoke Memories – A Poem

I’m going through

the photo album

contained in my mind.

I come across photos

I’ve held onto,

ones that show me

from a past long ago.

In the pictures,

I look uncomfortable

in the body that

I’m expected to inhabit,

one that came with expectations

of who I was

and what I was

supposed to be.

Even though I left home

so many years ago,

I’ve carried these scant memories,

wanting some kind of talisman

or touchstone to remind me

of where I came from.

Looking at the photos,

at my face and body language,

I see the shame that I carried with me,

so desperate I was

to fit in,

to hide,

to not be seen.

It was easier that way.

I left when I realized

that was the easier option

rather than sacrifice myself.

I take out the handful of photos

that I’ve kept,

and I flip through them.

In each successive picture,

my image becomes more

and more transparent.

In the last photo,

I am not even there.

In my mind,

I hold the photos

and my hands grow hot.

The fire I have created

engulfs the photos in a flame

that burns so brightly

until there is only smoke.

I take a deep breath in.

When I let my breath flow out

past my lips,

I let the smoke

float into the sky

and say goodbye

to the me that

I used to know

because I’m finally able

to let go.

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