A friend came over last month to take
family pictures: my husband, me, the dog,
four chickens. This photo’s just Marc and me,
my favorite. I’m grinning like a kid,
my head on his shoulder, my arms linking one of his,
his face scrunched up against
my fuzzy hat, his hand on my knee.
We’re sitting on the front porch of our first home
in Kansas, casually-on-purpose showcasing
new siding and paint. DayGlo yellow is out
this year, sophisticated gray in. Clearly
grown-ups live here. Both teachers
in our early thirties, we finally fit that description.
Marc’s jacket and flannel shirt suggest 90s grunge,
my long straight hair the sixties. I like that
we can’t be pinned down. Grandchildren
would puzzle over this picture,
try to determine when it was taken.
Maybe Marc and I won’t even remember for sure—
When did we redecorate? Marc, when did you
grow that beard? Melissa, when did you
buy that coat? Our years together will blend
into a crazy patchwork quilt—impossible to
distinguish one square from the rest.

Melissa Fite Johnson’s first collection, While the Kettle’s On (Little Balkans Press, 2015), won the Nelson Poetry Book Award and is a Kansas Notable Book. Her second book, Ghost Sign (Spartan Press, 2016), is a collaboration with fellow Kansas poets Al Ortolani, J. T. Knoll, and Adam Jameson. Her poems have appeared in Valparaiso Poetry Review, Rust + Moth, Broadsided Press, The Midwest Quarterly, velvet-tail, and elsewhere. Melissa teaches English and lives with her husband in Kansas. For more, visit

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