- Over the Years, and: The New Camera
Over the Years
Shut the window.Lock the door.
Sometimes we sit at the very centerof the universe, this sturdy kitchen tablewhere the coffee is rich and warmand you flip a page in a magazineand you begin dreaming againabout the long-overdue rituals ofremodeling the house, planting a garden,the handsome brass doorknobsmudged with the fingerprints of all thosewho promised to keep in touch. . . .
Close your eyes.You can feel the sunlight filter inthrough the leaves, through the lace curtains,touching your palm like a burning predictionfrom the insistent psychic you avoidedall these years.That voice, so calm and peaceful,whose is it?Close your eyes.Close your eyes and take a good look at me.
I hear it too.I repeat the guttural lyric,an infant learning the language. . . .It comes to this, living in sucha small dark place, single portraitsilluminated by an ancient flicker of regret.Close your eyes.Close your eyes and take a good look at me. [End Page 107]
I close my hand on a small coin.I close the unintelligible diary.I close the porcelain jewelry boxfilled with the precious stones, anniversaries,worthless remnants of lightwe dug up like thieves. . . .
Close your eyes.Even as I sit across from you,a touch away, a decade, the light blinds us.Close your eyes.
We remember turning away, a simpletwist of the feet, our backs to each other,the notion that all we had to dowas to turn back, and the world would simplyreappear and our eyes would meet.Close your eyes.I turn and turn and turn,and suddenly I'm dizzy in the new world.Here I am.Take a good look.Close your eyes and take a good look at me.
The New Camera
Hold it up,the way you would your hand.Cover your eyes from the sunand try to make outwhat it is that makes thisworlda blur at times, this urge [End Page 108] to focus on an object that needsto be suspended, exposed. . .
You think you recognize her.Through the lens your soulcaptures the light for an instant.
From this new Polaroidyou pull the negative into the light,and you wait. The chinaberry treeblossoms all over again, the shadowlengthens like a carpet so those that muststroll off one by one.You wait fifty years for the photo to develop . . .
so incredibly clear. [End Page 109]
Ross Talarico is the author of Spreading the Word: Poetry and the Survival of Community in America winner of the Modern Language Association's Mina P. Shaughnessy Prize for the outstanding book of the year on literature and writing. His work has been published in hundreds of magazines and journals, among them the Atlantic, Arts & Letters, the Nation, Poetry, the North American Review, the American Poetry Review, and others.