by outdated technology,
locked out of your life
by a captcha caption.
you can no longer prove
to your computer
that you’re not a robot.
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.
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 …
one day, a while ago,
my life set sail without me
and I waved it off from the dock,
blithe in sandalled feet and strappy summer dress,
all see-through with the brilliant sun behind me.
I too was translucent,
my edges incandescent,
slim and lithe and hopeful
with youth’s first ardour.
my eyes set on the horizon,
vitality bursting out of me like a song,
the world my oyster to discover.
I didn’t know my path was fixed,
circumscribed by my past,
my personality all flaws
and no fortitude.
my shortcomings, never overcome,
tethered me like a long leash,
never letting me stray too far,
tautening, tightening and pulling me back.
and I would only ever stand alone
on the farthest end of the jetty
and cast a wistful glance out to sea.
Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.
a sour old man smell
to the interior,
and stale urine.
the house is triple glazed
against all invaders,
fresh air, friends and the future.
the curtains never drawn
but heaters on full blast.
he shivers, feels the cold,
not to mention
the years of holding
everyone at bay,
never letting anyone in.
he dwells on grievances,
the grist of them sustains him,
nurtured by decades of distrust,
trodden into the very fabric of his soul.
his paranoia a corrosive acid
that has eaten through to the bone.
he’s isolated, keeper
of a lighthouse,
its lonely beacon obsolete.
he stands guard at the window
and watches all the neighbours come and go,
their cars and kids and trips away
as if his own personal TV show.
Photo of lighthouse at St Joseph’s, Michigan by Belinda