A Photograph

Under the sudden weight his neck cracked a little like the shutter-release button.
Not the weight of stories or self-aggrandised memory or shit like this:
the straight-down weight of a 1971 Russian-made SLR
(no matter he thought it was the same age as his father).
She focussed slowly then became a blur, a sunset on a plain.

For the occasion he wore his best 58-mil lens: factory-standard,
actually, but there’s no need for her to know. He held it to her.
The smell of the ageing leather case threw her to a world of a father,
breath of American lager, cigars, a green recliner and a fire.
She tossed it back, tossed off her pants, let her arch punctuate a question mark.

By chance the bottom of the case still held his father’s ‘Property Of’ label,
in gold, in larger font, above his, punctuated by a full stop.
The weight on the wrist at this angle hurt. He aimed again, her sunset fell
behind the night curtain shutter only to rise one hundred and twenty five
milliseconds later. He thumbed the winder, finding nothing to spool,

no film for the sprockets to chew, and his eyes – wide, stark – shuttered on bulb
for an unfocussed time, gulping images onto the reel of his
mind: thoughts of all those times lost, all those eternities dismissed
with each flick of that switch; not even memories now: events, without
a chance to become fading antiques coated in their tears, dust and grease.

He opened his eyes. She’s still naked, still there, more an imperative now
than an indirect, seductive question.
The mirror behind her
and the mirror behind him juggled the couple for an era
he just couldn’t muster and, wishing for film, he pressed on the plunger:
an inrush of light puffed off the back of the camera. Nothing was preserved.

(Published in issue three of Haque magazine.)

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