Grade 7
School Picture Grade Seven
by Carol A. Stephen

That day I went to school forgetting what day it was,
forgetting to gussy-up for the school pic, that annual event
to freshen up your collection of tiny wallet pics, crammed
in an oversize, 100-photo wallet girls carried back then,
constant companion chronicling the latest dreadful mugshots
and silly poses four for a quarter taken in a photo booth at the fair.
Mine was shiny plastic, blue and white squares, its strap torn,
no longer closing around the wallet’s fat girth.

That day I wore a white sweater, a Black Watch tartan skirt,
my favourite gold pendant with its dark green fake emerald.
Glass, really, but at 11, an emerald to me. I’d have been presentable, but
my goodness! My hair! Not sure now, but I’d probably slept in,
rushed off too quickly to remember to brush those always unruly curls
A few swipes might have saved me the glow of bright red face back then,
and now, to see that hair all these years later as my brother sifts old      pictures
and decides to share the photo one more time on Facebook.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Whenever I think of bad hair days, this particular photo comes to mind. It keeps turning up like a bad penny, even though it was so many years ago. Most recently, my brother, Norm, found a copy of the small, wallet-size one, and brought it back to life again, as described in the poem. But I haven’t forgotten the feeling I had on that day when I realized it was the day for pictures.


Carol A. Stephen 
is a Canadian poet. Her poetry has appeared in Bywords Quarterly Journal and two Tree Press/phaphours press collaborative chapbooks. You can also find Carol’s poems on-line at and in videos at Twice shortlisted,  in 2012 Carol won third place in Canadian Authors Association National Capital Writing Contest. She’s the author of three chapbooks, Above the Hum of Yellow JacketsArchitectural Variations, and Ink Dogs in my Shoes (2014), as well as a new collaborative chapbook with JC Sulzenko, titled Breathing Mutable Air (2015). ). A second collaborative chapbook of ekphrastic poems, Slant of Light, will be forthcoming in Spring, 2016. Visit her at