Pilling, a poem by Mariah Srygler

From Hoosier Writers 2012 by Mariah Srygler

I am someone else in this photograph, slack mouth
straight hair, flannel shirt peppered with
pastel roses, purple and pink, pilling from
two years of laborious laundry runs,
nine and ten, biking to the laundromat two days
after finding no clean shirts for school- Mom says
she can’t do the laundry for me, in her car, with her
something-called fabric softener
because one day I’ll be grown and
when you are grown no one will help you but
yourself
Against the tree house, shadows are just-so,
perfect for the collegiate photography projects
not-Dad, just-Jon poses me for
He says, beside the shadow of the rungs, Mariah
get off the swing set, focus, Jesus, drop your toy,
God that disgusting toy I can’t believe that you
still carry that fucking thing around, how old are you?
Jon says, beside the shadow of the rungs, Mariah,
against the wood grain, under the light
through the trees, now let me find the focus,
he mumbles, smokes,
and I hold Max tight around the neck
Shadows melt in to my honey hair, my face is hard
beneath the soft light, soft against the wood grain,
distracted by the swings
Max is pilling, too, turned grey and mildewed
sick from ten years of being loved
too hard
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