V  P  R

Contemporary Poetry and Poetics




                    Myers Park, Charlotte, NC

If commissioned to take a shot of this boulevard
I’d use one of those Civil War-era collodion cameras
preferred by Brady, which shortened exposure time
but required their taker to haul fragile glass plates wet
into the bloodied field. It seems fittingly ironic,
here in this upscale post-antebellum neighborhood:
an arduous task demanding patience in a land
rife with comfort and convenience. A mirror
of memory, Holmes called it, the camera
set up outside the show church and pointed
down the long twinned lines of decorous oaks.
But what memories would come to light
in this realm of carefully hid secrets and invisible,
cordoned-off zones? What might the impartial
camera affix to the plate but handsome joggers
alongside the blur of workbound SUVs, lean
bike riders floating by in brightly colored teams.
If you want any glimpse in, better wait
for the maid to walk her lady’s Jack Russell
and hope she puts her hand to her face.
The front yards, pretty dioramas, all tended
by invisible gardeners, and the facades of mansions
bounce light off their windows expertly.
The only untouched place: the grass corridor
at the center of the frame, the strip between lanes
that glides forward into vanishing point.
The old men have retreated to their garages
and the teens are off to college or soccer practice,
leaving the women to peer out windows or parade
their toddlers in the Starbucks, made up
for a night out at 8 in the morning. I stoop
under the black hood, hand gripping
the guillotine switch, waiting for the perfect torsion
of suspended moment, ready to cross over into
the shot’s frame and star in my own photograph,
besotted admirer and blurred subject both.

© by Sebastian Matthews


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