The baby stares at the lens,

china doll, pale and cold

with dark hair that’s lost its curl.

Sat in Mother’s satin lap,

heavy, quiet and still,

lips cracked, no breath left to rattle.

Mother fusses with the bonnet

and sits up straight

ready for the waiting exposure.

As the hour passes

the photographer smokes,

Mother tries to smile,

and the baby

continues to stare


until she’s laid to rest

the very next day, replaced

by the photo that rests on the dresser.