First photographic portrait image of a human produced in America.
“Robert Cornelius, head-and-shoulders self-portrait, facing front, with arms crossed”, approximate quarter plate daguerreotype, 1839 [Oct. or Nov.]. LC-USZC4-5001 DLC United States Library of Congress
Robert Cornelius remains skeptical.
He does not trust that it will work,
or that a specific future develops
when this image will be visible.
He does not pause to comb his hair
or consider us, but guards himself
against the possible exposure,
against the theft, of unmarshalled spirit.
Slow counting silent hesitation,
he glances sidelong from 1839,
doubtful of our existence,
his focus on what he next intends.
Breaking the mould
In the box-van back a mirror cabinet
trembles leafy outer worlds under
a roller-back gate of steel, half open,
like the cloth-bound shell of my father’s desk,
a sticking portal to cryptic drawers, tiny shelves,
to faint unsmoked tobaccos of before.
Ahead, and through my windscreen,
outside inside, green shimmers framed
by the mover strapped hardwood mouldings,
whisper hints of a remote Narnian spring.
Breaking the Mould grins in lean sans-serif,
strap-line wry beneath the tailgate logo.
I pray granny’s paper-lined display case
will pass Dens Road’s potholes un-cracked,
that still somewhere seven more years’ luck,
or even fair Cair Paravel, might be found intact.
Old dog standing
You’re an old dog now, no mistake.
Titanic as you weigh anchor to embark
from under the table, your safe-harbour
day-bed, out on to the linoleum sea.
The idea of standing is there
but between your back feet cross
caught napping, and front feet
skiting wide like a novice pond skater,
it takes time and struggle for the plan
to swim. Trying to float, confusion flaps
behind the George Clooney gaze,
signals flag a drift cast slightly all-at-sea.
Until at last you stand four-square
floor-launched to general relief,
we all tracked your slipway staggers,
familiar waters met though bearings lost.