Exposure

There is the clarity of tree branches, the way
you always think they'll photograph so well,
the way they never do.

There are the lines of buildings,
right-angles, red brick against the blue of sky—solidity
and air are always juxtaposed.

There are all the scenes that don't make it onto postcards:
a table of daffodils at the farmers' market at Union Square,
the labyrinths painted on the asphalt, the M7 bus, elevated train tracks.

There is the sun on the water, reflecting like shards,
and you press the shutter like you're capturing it on film
but the Brownie you're carrying hasn't worked
for twenty-three years and you know this.

You pretend you are a Polaroid camera and
any moment now you'll open your mouth,
a snapshot on your tongue.

March 2004