Sunday, 21 February 2021


Don’t Forget to Blink

by Jen Schneider

Photographs always frightened me. Not the act. Not the image, either. The bright artificial light. Though I knew it was coming, I knew not how to prepare. My eyes would close, always, no matter how hard I tried. Unable to erase captured film, small canisters would hold proof of my inadequacies – later documented in dark rooms behind closed doors.

Others angered. Easily. 

Keep your eyes open. It’s not that hard. 

I can still feel the others’ glares and the sting of the air on the whites of my eyes. Stretched against limits and questions with no answers. Later, wrinkled dollars would change hands over dusty drugstore counters. Fingers would unwrap sealed envelopes and pull back crisp, neatly folded paper. Quick flips through stacks of prints would inevitably confirm yet more failings. 

Not again. Yep, again. What a waste.

At the time I never understand what I was resisting. Despite my efforts, my body was unable to comply with the demands of artificial settings, forced smiles, and fake poses. 

Now, I know. All along, I was fighting the future. 

* * * * *

Jen Schneider is an educator, attorney, and writer. She lives, writes, and works in small spaces throughout Philadelphia. Recent work appears in The Popular Culture Studies Journal, Toho Journal, The New Verse News, Zingara Poetry Review, Streetlight Magazine, Chaleur Magazine, LSE Review of Books, and other literary and scholarly journals. 


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