[Untitled Photogenic]

Adrienne Rozells

I. For this wedding, the bride asked me to wear black. She wears white. White as in:

What else?

I wonder, when people touch me or tell me I am sexy hot beautiful, do they consider the things I therefore cannot be? As in purity virginity chastity what else. Does it matter to them if I am not? As long as I am young, yet. As long as I am visible.

II. On the day of the wedding, smiling through a glowing face, she tells me she had some work done. I am happy for her. Pink in restored cheeks, she looks like she got a good night’s rest.

She tells me there is a moment
when a woman becomes

When you are invisible you wish to be seen again, so you grab at youth. But once you grab you defy the natural order of things. As the stories tell us, this is evil. Consider:

Snow White’s Evil Queen
Rapunzel’s Mother Gothel
Morgana, wicked
Wicked Witch of the West, melting

“It’s like everything just melts away one day.” As if, for so long, you have been an object of desire, and menopause comes and adds fat or sucks fat or both, but never where you want it.

I am told to stop
growing, by which they mean
I ought to try and stay young.

I have always been the youngest. People love to compliment youth. Most recently,

“the straightest teeth I’ve ever seen”
and “long legs”
and “pretty mouth” “aristocratic nose” “lovely neck and collarbones.”

I shy away,

“Six years of braces”
and “Oh, I’m just gangly”
and “Thank you”
before excusing myself.

You’re not supposed to flaunt your wealth.

III. At the wedding, I (nineteen, brunette, black dress, feeling proud of my looks and this feeling is new) stand at the bar next to a woman (fifties, blonde, black dress, stress between the brows) and the bartender (blonde, thirties, male) refills my bellini right away. I clacked my way over in my brand new heels just seconds ago and the woman has been here awhile and she looks tired. She mutters to her companion,

“I’m invisible.”
Not I feel invisible,
or might as well be invisible,
or it’s like I’m invisible. She just is.

I take my drink, red in the cheeks. You’re not supposed to flaunt your wealth. Consider:

The wedding veil. An old tradition,
with disputed backstories,
but in none of them
should you be able to see.

IV. In ancient times veils were heavy, the color of fire, and women could not see through them so they had to be walked down the aisle. These veils indicated respectability and rank, separated married women from “those who were publicly available.” It is said that the veil was flipped up before the wedding ceremony to ensure that the husband hadn’t been tricked. This is the woman he wishes to marry. She is not hideous. Or it is said that the veil was flipped up after the ceremony, to ensure the husband could not run. This is the woman he has already married. She may be hideous, but it’s too late.

V. This photograph is a toned gelatin silver print.
This type of print can be processed many years
after the photo was taken. The moment has passed
and we bring it to life again.

Consider the swirls of light and dark.
A veil playing over its past.

How far would you travel for the fountain of youth?

Adrienne Rozells holds a BA in Creative Writing from Oberlin College. She currently teaches writing to kids and works as co-EIC at Catchwater Magazine. She has two novels scheduled for release in 2021. Her favorite things include strawberries, her dogs, and extrapolating wildly about the existence of Bigfoot. She can be found on Twitter @arozells or Instagram @rozellswrites.