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By Becky Armstrong

Soft is a word too small to describe you,
Instead metallic taste like pennies or blood.
Face stretched in a smile as you appear around the kitchen door,
Lights up freckles and lines from the sun,
of no time for sun-screen,
because “the sea is there for swimming in”,
and glasses could be washed whilst we were upstairs dreaming.
Tangerine peel which curls up,
smells too sweet in May’s hotness,
and you sweep it up with bitten ringless fingers,
as Danny kicks my shins and we scrawl numbers in workbooks you paid for.
The smile is the omission,
the forgetting, the protecting and faltering negation,
which we saw only sometimes in quiet moments stood by the window
with chipped mug clasped against your dressing gown,
hoping your chilli seeds would grow.
Or when taking our smaller hands in yours,
we realised that they too were cold,
because an hour ago you held another hand,
which tubes and morphine couldn’t pump heat into?
Last breaths hammered in more metal,
you’ve learnt to be hard,
still stroking my bruises,
and walking me to football practice past men and sons.
And now more than a bus ride from un-stroked bruises,
and Danny’s a whole country away,
we falter down phonelines
but you gave me my own hardness,
alloys bound on broken teeth and battered egos,
which when I bit my tongue and tasted pennies, I thought of you.


My own work is self-labelled as documentary photography, out of a lack of a better title. By carrying a camera daily, I aim to embody the spirit of the Brownie in making the means to photography ready to me at every moment, without obstruction – by doing so, I can take a photograph of anything that captures my eye and interests me enough to preserve. Any of us can do this these days, with a camera readily available in our pockets around the clock – and many of us do so without even thinking about it. Next time you take your phone out to take a photograph, whether it is of your friends or of something that caught your eye, think about how you are participating in the act of documenting your life through photography. Make prints of your favourites, display them on your walls, share them with your friends and family. Follow the tradition of those who came before you and took their own snapshots documenting their lives. Everyone is a documentary photographer today, and this is a good thing.

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