Candice Kelsey·PoetryI Hold My Father’s BeerShareIGrainy 4×4 photos like some prop deck of saloon cards my mother has filed in a yellowed Polaroid Flashgun #268 box.Meant for automatic color-pack cameras, this box contains the cycle of life: film to camera, exposure to development.Now a mini-tomb it catalogues the slideshow of childhood. Pinafores and matching tights meet shiny doll babies and mini kitchens.Snapshot. I slide the snug-fitting lid from my cache, inhale the scent of 1972, split-level with two car garage, shellacked orange linoleum, golden shag carpet. I meet variations of myself.I see more clearly the woman-my-mother who gathered these pictures, writing in skate-looped letters my name, the year. It is a small alphabet to unscramble like the life I have now. Dusty, itchy.IIMost shots are of my legs. Polly Flinders, patent leathers. Fractional, I am out of focus, off center, back to the lens.In one frame I hold my father’s beer; in another, a pack of Salem Lights. Most images are presents: Christmas, birthday, Easter Her photo omphalos, You grainy womb, white-washed tomb! You speak her –don’t ever forget most important of all is not the person, not even the two-and-a-half-year-old girl, but the package.IIIThe girl is package. Nothing inside but the facade swing-door parlor scripted game of cards. She’ll be stuffed back into boxes.I grow more comfortable in the uncertainty of being that girl, both container and contained. In the certainty of dustI crave my father’s cool, wet bottle of beer and imagine the bitter sip going down like a mother’s expectations.