Poem—"Polaroid Elegy"

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Brett Foster

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Polaroid Elegy

 
Gone now or nearly so, or now gone
retro and so more available now
than ever. 
 
But let’s maintain this one ruminative fiction
of long-gone vision, the years last seen:
air and light 
 
and hand-held conjuration like a funeral-
home fan. The salvaging of lives,
imperfectly.
 
Thus fully, beautifully human,
like that poem by Pilizaio
da Bologna,
 
who ventured that Adam’s being made
in God’s image and being capable
of sinning
 
meant that imperfection was intrinsic.
(The poet’s own sins made him
an authority.)
 
Just so the grainy, faded talismans
of that age’s mechanical eye,
emulated
 
now by digital graphics programs,
except that a single click deletes
all mishaps,
 
instead of bearing them unknowing into light
like thermometers needing resetting.
Awkward ones
 
make me weep the most. I think of the SX-70
in the hands of Walker Evans, his everyman’s
scrutiny
 
so bittersweet, or Andy Warhol like a sentinel:
one in hand, taking portraits of people’s
genitals,
 
holy disco sessions for posterior’s sake,
while this guy’s and that gal’s pants rest
at the knees.
 
Most pleasing of all, yellowed snapshot in the sun 
visor of my father’s maroon Caprice
Classic,
 
company car from Mattingly’s. One night another
driver swerved through thunderstorms, sent
us to the ditch.
 
Forty-five-degree angle, shaken, more alive
than ever. Afterward I’ve never remembered 
that cherished shot
 
he kept always just inches from his temple.
 

 

Biography

 

Brett Foster is the author of two poetry collections, The Garbage Eater (Triquarterly Books/Northwestern University Press, 2011) and Fall Run Road, which was awarded Finishing Line Press's Open Chapbook Prize. His writing has appeared in Boston Review, IMAGE, Kenyon Review, The Missouri Review, Poetry Daily, Raritan, Southwest Review, and Yale Review. He teaches creative writing and Renaissance literature at Wheaton College.

 

© 2013 Brett Foster, used by permission


Technoculture Volume 3 (2013)