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Polaroid - Barry Casey

When I leaf through the poetry book

from the secondhand shop,

the Polaroid photo falls into my hand.

The young man in the foreground has curly

blond hair, a white shirt, and black khakis.

His arm is raised to the camera at his eye.

His gaze is on the young woman,

as dark-haired as he is blond, as olive-skinned

as he is fair, in a white dress gathered to her neck,

her tanned shoulders bare, her hair

draping soft around her face

down to her shoulder.

She sits side-saddle, long legs crossed

at the ankle, espadrilles braced

against the black cold barrel of a cannon.

It’s a summer afternoon, maybe four o’clock,

the light slanting in from the west. Just over

the ramparts, the wide horizon of the river.

He swings her down and they wait

for the Polaroid with his best friend, the one

who took the photo, and the three of them

look for a coffee shop before they drive

back to the City. And she keeps the photo

in the poetry book he gives her for their anniversary.

When she moves out, she drops the book

off at the library sale for homeless vets.

She’s forgotten the photo, pressed between the poems,

but she remembers that afternoon, the soft,

creamy light, the stiff cold muscle of the cannon,

the one who took the Polaroid.


Barry Casey

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