portion of the artwork for Lauren Yates' poetry

Petrichor
Lauren Yates

For the days when your ego slaps itself as if it’s playing hambone,
remember: there’s a name for the smell of rain on pavement.

And every photograph is like Stockholm Syndrome,
where subjects fall in love with their captors.
You are no victim. That’s why I still don’t know whether you’re photogenic.
All I ask is that you keep photographing my self-portraits,
so that I may love you through the way I view myself.

Because my ego is more like that potato clock from the science fair:
surprisingly electric, yet full of holes. My skin is pierced with nails,
but I am no Christ. It’s just my job to keep time.

That’s why first place goes to the skateboarding rat.
The judges don’t like me because I don’t believe in gimmicks.
But when you look at me—alligator clips and all—
your eyes become blue ribbons, letting me know
that I have won and you intend to claim your prize.

“Let’s take a photo,” I say.
You say no, that taking pictures will make us like everyone else.
I ask why it matters if we know we’re not.
You look down at the newspaper. In my mind, I say your name.
And when you look up from the politics section,
I snap a photo for good measure.

This plan seems completely doable until I realize
I’ve never called you by your name.
You call me by mine, and attach it to sayings like
“No one will ever bring half a smile to my face like you do”
or “Hi” or “How are you?“ or “I love you.“

Is this because there’s only me or because
there’ve been others besides me?

If I were to succeed in capturing you,
I imagine you’d have red eyes in the photo.
Red ribbons to let me know I’ll never top second place,
that there are other girls you’ve been inside of,
but you are my only. No contest.

And yet you ask if I’ve awarded any other blue ribbons.
You don’t believe me when I say, “No.”

I know you asked as a way to boost your ego,
but for the days when your ego slaps itself as if it’s playing hambone,
remember: there’s a name for the smell of rain on pavement,
and that your wish to feel special should never be at my expense.

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FRiGG: A Magazine of Fiction and Poetry | Issue 39 | Winter 2013