Can I Take Your Picture?

Anna Wingert


The man who asked to take our picture by the lake
could’ve been a serial killer,
and us three girls three of millions dead,
at the hands of a man with a camera.
Immortalized silly, smiling, and bundled up for snow,
developed ten, fifteen, twenty years later,
and shown on a true crime TV show.

We let him take our picture,
looked at one another, and wondered
whether this would leave us naked and raped,
blue and choked and dead in a foot of filthy snow.
We smiled with our eyes— or tried to—
for this man we didn’t know.

We half-laughed and waded through the snow, maybe-joking
that if the man with the camera showed up again,
we needed a plan to escape with our lives.
Because there is no such thing as a nice older man
who only wants to take pictures of college girls
for all the right reasons.

He carries us three with him
on an SD card.
He asked, “Can I take your picture?”
and we posed for him and smiled.