The Photographer

Original Text: 
  • Shannon Bramer, The Refrigerator Memory (Toronto: Coach House Books, 2005): 20-21.
  • 1What it means to carry a camera
    2is to speak out of the empty
    3frame seeing God, Sky, Road, her return
    4and faith in the perfection of deserts.
    5To picture the quiet man's body in the city.
    6This is what it means to love, to loiter
    7In forbidden zones, allowing the girl to loiter
    8there with you, perhaps, taking your camera
    9away at intervals and sending you into the city
    10alone. Sometimes we need to come home empty
    11handed; sick with strange deserts
    12in mind we will leave and return
    13With our long memory of the city,
    14its sights and sounds to repeat and return
    15to the missing man in the room, his empty
    16chair. In his cool bed we loiter
    17in the dark, patient with the camera
    18and every sense recalling other deserts,
    19Other times like this when the idea of deserts
    20confounded us, when we dreamt the city
    21was made of sand, tugged that camera
    22down around his neck, no promise of return,
    23but something of you, hopeful, seemed to loiter
    24in the mind of the street, the empty
    25Bed to go back to, your empty
    26room a perfect void like his deserts,
    27the window open where you loiter
    28like a vagrant in your own apartment, the city
    29loose with lights, the slow lights of return.
    30You see he is unpacking the camera,
    31Cradling the camera, testing the empty
    32    weight of its images, tiny doors of return, her
    33cold pictures of city, moon, desert.
    RPO poem Editors: 
    Ian Lancashire
    RPO Edition: 
    Special Copyright: 

    Copyright © Shannon Bramer and used by permission of the poet. Authorization to republish this poem must be obtained from her in writing.