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old cameras

we put our past together
from fragments we find
in envelopes with yellowed paste,
on the tops of wardrobes
and at the backs of drawers.

overloaded drawers that only open
if yanked at a certain angle,
and taken by surprise, whose bottoms
billow out into the cupboard below.

or in a schreiber blanket box,
with its unsatupon black vinyl seat,
long-term resident of the landing,
a sanctuary for half-finished garments
sewn for small children long grown up.

washed out 110 instamatic colour snaps,
faded as if by the hot 70s summer sun
they captured in blurry matte oblongs.
or square monochrome over-exposed
polaroids, the nearest we came to magic,
as we posed awkwardly,
clutching our own elbows,
in front of the french windows.

blanket box

letters from our neighbours,
witnesses who took an interest
in our welfare, postcards
from our younger selves,
cheery messages from foreign parts,
birthday cards from long-lost friends.

we reassemble our lives as they once were.
but they are jigsaws with missing pieces –
the edges of a cloud, the arrowhead tip
of a church spire, the verdant heart of a tree.
they will always be insoluble and incomplete,
vital clues absent or jumbled,
astray in the thickets of memory.


Incidentally found out the camera on the left is still halfway through a film …