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Joel Long

Camera


                      Thing that light passes through
to what receives it, receptacle, box without film, still
opens to lamplight—how do I take a picture? Press down
here—it does nothing but open now. Inside,
its folded tunnel lightens a half second, returns.
Nothing occurs—there is no film that fits—it flashes
the back lid. The viewfinder has clouded into a cataract
cruciform, until you stand here, above and a picture forms,
floating like an image in soap, a small dog, a face,
the other wall in the room, the trees rocking in breeze.

And then, he stood before Reims in its ruin,
held the camera before white crosses at Belleau Woods,
held it in the pub where they drank ale in Paris.
In Lyon, he gave it to a friend from Pontanezen and climbed
the disabled German tank himself with Calhoun and Moore.
In that particular light of day, he heard this same click,
and he turned, and he changed, slid down the front of the tank,
over the painted Iron Cross, and took his camera back. Pushing
two levers beneath the lens with his thumb and finger,
he retracted it back into its body, closed the viewfinder
and lens inside, strapped it in the leather case, the film alive
with the marks of light.

                                                 Awnd what good is this lens?
And what good the space between the lens and the place
the film goes? I can open the back. I can take a mouth
of air that tastes like attics, almost sweet, hint of damp wood.
It is dark inside except for that flicker of indecipherable light
simultaneous with a click and resonant buzz,
something loose in the machinery.


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