The Kodak Target Brownie

She’s fourteen and happy, those years ago,
laughing from a second-storey window

of a high school classroom, her face in sun,
brick walls behind her, her friend leaning

from another window, holding the Target
Brownie, yelling “smile”, before the class begins,

before the students tumble back to desks,
before the slam of door and the teacher,

dark haired, severe in stiff frowns and dresses,
standing as tall as the blackboard, holding

the book of answers as the class, dominoes
falling in turn from the push of surprise algebra

drills and no fire drills to scream escape
down the twenty-six polished wooden steps

to the safe geometry of footpaths and grass.
If only there’d been more questions before

her turn, before she slipped in the swell
of wrong answers and drowned in guesses.

In the reprieve of the yellowing photo, she laughs,
her shoulder-length-hair touching the white

puffed sleeves of her new peasant blouse.
The friend with the camera, what was her name?

(c) Martha Morseth. All rights reserved.

The bottom half of an image of a flax frond.