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AMID THE SEASON'S JOYS COMES PAIN

This year's holiday mail brings the usual
rush of here's-what-we're-all-doing letters.
But a friend surprises me with some heart-
wrenchers:
Three photos of myself at 16, posing in a carnival
photo-booth with three separate (male) classmates.
The young men look surprisingly arrogant,
With their arms hooking my neck as though they,
each one, owned me.
That girl with the dark hair, the bright, bright
lipstick, the clear skin,
She's so pretty I want to cry.
And I don't look like I'm owned by any of those
three boys.
What was I doing there, for heaven's sake?
Two of those boys are now dead.
One died barely a year later in a car crash.
The other, of a heart attack ten years ago.
And the friend's letter brings news of other
classmates, old friends who are desperately
ill, or recently dead.
I'm reminded again of my own aging, creaky
body,
My own reluctant health;
Of how I grieve for all those old friends now gone,
or hurting,
And for that young, bright-lipped girl.

Joanne L. Schweik
JOANNE L. SCHWEIK lives in Fredonia.

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