Photographs of people that you know, images captured in 1/30th of a second of celluloid exposed to light. When you pick up photos from the man behind the counter, they're full of depth, fresh and pleasant. You don't just see the still pictures, but you also infer the subjects' movement, what they were doing, where they were going at the time. From memory you can put this slick, 2D whispered ghost of photons into its full third- and fourth-dimensional context. From memory you can reconstruct each and every captured singularity in your ongoing present.

Then time passes, and memories fade and blur together. With them goes your understanding of the photograph, the inferences once made by at a quick glance take ever longer to dredge up, often vanishing entirely or going meta. After a few months you must search a little to figure out when and where the pictures were taken. If you don't see the subjects of the photo for a year or so, their manner of walking, the shape of their face and body disappears too. After a few years everything but the photo itself is hazy, from the relationships between its subjects to even their names. The photograph's third dimension, once so vivid and immediate, fades to simple flatness, stillness....

Until each picture is like the ones in your seventh grade yearbook. People you used to know so well, who've contributed something real (whether weak or strong) to your persona, and who have been gone for a while. Maybe some were more important than others, but it doesn't matter because they -- and, of course, you -- have changed since then. Once as important to you as your friends are today, now only white noise disguised as black flecks on glossy paper; interchangeable and two-dimensional.

One day, the summer we lived together
I found, tucked like a whisper, between
pages one hundred thirty-eight and
one hundred thirty-nine of "Handmaid of Desire,"
an old snapshot of you, which you are
never, ever getting back.

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