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Depth of Field

Anne Michaels
From:   The Weight of Oranges / Miner's Pond. McClelland & Stewart, 1997. p.24
Reprinted by permission of the publisher.


"The camera relieves us of the burden of memory ...
records in order to forget."       —John Berger



We've retold the stories of our lives
by the time we reach Buffalo,
sun coming up diffuse and prehistoric
over the Falls.

A white morning,
sun like paint on the windshield.
You drive, smoke, wear sunglasses.

Rochester, Camera Capital of America.
Stubbing a cigar in the lid of a film cannister,
the Kodak watchman gives directions.

The museum's a wide-angle mansion.
You search the second storey from the lawn,
mentally converting bathrooms to darkrooms.

A thousand photos later,
exhausted by second-guessing
the mind which invisibly surrounds each image,
we nap in a high school parking lot,
sun leaning low as the trees
over the roof of the warm car.

Driving home. The moon's so big and close
I draw a moustache on it and smudge the windshield.
I stick my fingers in your collar to keep you awake.
I can't remember a thing about our lives before this morning.

We left our city at night and return at night.
We buy pineapple and float quietly through the neighbourhood,
thick trees washing themselves in lush darkness,
or in the intimate light of streetlamps.
In summer the planer's heavy with smells of us,
stung with the green odour of gardens.
Heat won't leave the pavement
until night is almost over.

I've loved you all day.
We take the old familiar Intertwine Freeway,
begin the long journey towards each other
as to our home town with all its lights on.



Anne Michaels's works copyright © to the author.


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