The Layered Language of Photographs: A Poem

I look into your eyes on old photographs,

Drawn away from your smile, I focus on your

Eyes, and I read you, everything within you

Deeply suffocated, like an open book that contains

My story, in development, unfinished, struggling

To grow, unfolding, blossom without injuries left and



I wish that I could have been your friend,

Being by your side when you made decisions

That proved to be wrong, giving you the strength

Of not being subjected to judgement. I just would

Have been with you, both learning how to love,

And maybe you wouldn’t have done certain things

That hurt you.


Whenever you pop up, I feel that pang of heat

In my stomach, because there was a time when we were

Disconnected, shoving each other to the sidelines,

Thinking one page is enough for a book, rendering us

Weaker. A time when none of us knew who we were.

Trying on masks that gave us rashes.

You were kicked and I felt it in my bones.


I look at you, how hard you tried to fit in,

To keep yourself a secret, to get used to

Abuse, to exit the tact of violence, to do what

Others want you to do, to hold on to a world

That’d only exist in your mind, keeping you alive,

To consolidate the dreams that you never revealed

To anyone. Because you’d know what they would say

And do. That flame belonged to you, you didn’t give it

Away, you kept it safe and that’s where we never got

Out of touch, you and I, no matter what the photographs say.

photo of two women lying on grass
Photo by Rendy Maulana Yusup on



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