Vintage sunlight catching
chrome plated italics
my finger tracing raised lines.
I feel weightless
of loaded film is
an infinity of images,
ready to burst out of the brittle cream plastic.
I yearn to press the shutter.
But this is a perverse
I take the expected photographs-
mundane arrangements of aunties-
christmas days, holidays
smiling seasons within a narrow world.
Enprints return from the chemist
In envelopes more exciting than the photographs they contain.
Albumed, their magic fades, eclipsed with sadness.
a holiday in Devon, 1962.
Restless all day, sand castles lacking allure
instead wanting to creep
to where a secretive locomotive wheezes,
pushing wagons about .
At last, precious minutes are approved
time to take my photograph.
Parents impatient, smoking, keen to be off
"Hurry up, then!"
I squeeze the shutter
the spell is cast, set to travel down the ages.
The next day, excited about more train photos
childish hands drop the camera.
The bakelite body breaks
film looping out, unspooled, spoiled.
Spilled memories stream
diluting until lost in the summer light
amid my tears.
As if to compensate for cardinal loss
my retina assigns soot and sunlight to memory:
The crew, smiling from the cab
locomotive beetling towards the docks
swathed in yellow smoke and shadows
sky unfathomably clear.
Much time has passed.
Now there are no steam engines
outside of captivity.
My latest camera is complicated,
capable beyond my abilities.
Yet I still hope
as I press the viewfinder to my face
for the magic in that sunlit image,
captured in my mind.
copyright Iain Robinson 2018