Nomadic lives migrate from day to day.
The wind unwinds our tracks across the sand.
Experience gets chalked up and wiped away
unless some lineaments are fixed by hand
in pigment or in ink – for which we pay
with hours of work for every image scanned,
or take machinery that has the trick
of mummifying moments in a click.
Possess your cake or eat it crumb by crumb,
defining grain and fruit and aftertaste.
Photographers like lepidopterists come
with killing jars, determined not to waste
this colonnade, that atmospheric slum.
They want them packaged, portable and placed –
but swimming through a second's not the same
as squinting at it sliced inside a frame.
And unsophisticated cultures knew
photography could steal away a soul.
Each candid snapshot filches part of you
that your self-definition can't control:
a keyhole cameo, a mole's-eye view,
a puzzle building in towards its hole
with pieces that aspire to fill the heart
whose emptiness still holds their frame apart.
© Brian Fewster,
Published in The Frogmore Papers, 2002
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