MOVING PICTURE

Increasingly few can remember
the time when making a home movie
was an event unto itself,
when you didn’t strap the camera
to handlebars, helmet, dashboard or body,
but you hand-carried the damn thing
weighing a pound or two, you stuffed it
with film which you sent off to the lab
to have developed, hoping your story
would appear in the returning envelope.
You threaded the film onto the sprockets,
turned on the motor and lamp
and watched expectantly as images
always a bit under-or over-exposed
moved a bit jokingly across the screen.
There was nothing to upload, you knew
the image would fade over time, unless
the projector grew cranky or jammed
and you watched your memories
quite literally melt on the screen,
and the only numbers that mattered
weren’t megapixels and gigabytes but
millimeters, 8 for most, 16 for the wealthy.

SMALL REFLECTION

It is that moment when the moon
is a glaring crescent,
slowly engulfed by
the impending night —
when the few clouds give out
their fading glow
In the jaundiced light
of the sodium arc street lamp.-
It nestles the curb — at first a small bird —
when touched, a twisted piece of root

I want to walk into the weed-strewn
aging cemetery, stand in the shadow
of the expressway, peel
the uncut grass from around her head-
stone. I remember
her arthritic hands clutching mine,
in her dark, morgueish apartment, smelling
of vinyl camphor borsht
I saw her last in a hospital bed
where they catalog and store
those awaiting death, stared
at the well-tubed skeleton
barely indenting starched white sheets.
She smiled wanly and whispershouted
my name — I held my ground
unable to cross the river of years
unwilling to touch
her outstretched hand. She had
no face then, no face now, only
an even fainter smell of age
of camphor of lilac of must

Next to the polished headstone
lies a small, twisted root.
I wish it were a bird,
I could place gently
on the lowest branch of the old maple
that oversees her slow departure.


First appeared in Legal Studies Forum, Vol. 30, No. 1-2, 2006 and in The Right to Depart, Plainview Press, 2008.