Features, Poems

Troy Jollimore: “Polaroid Model 100 Onestep, Circa 1978”

This month, we will feature Pushcart Prize-nominated work from recent issues of Poetry Northwest, accompanied by photographs from the Poetry Northwest Instagram feed. This week: a photo-nostalgic poem from Troy Jollimore, one of our nominees for the 2014 Pushcart anthology.

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Polaroid Model 1000 Onestep, Circa 1978

It might have been passed away at a yard
or garage sale, to other hands who hoped
to preserve, with it, from time and the gathering,
unrepentant dark, some image worth
saving. More likely it got shipped out
in one of the many cartons of detritus
our collapsing lives ejected, to end up
flattened and crushed in some landfill or other,
its memories vacated and extinguished
like dreams that seem, during the first few
moments of wakefulness, to be vivid
enough to last, but which then dissipate
like soap bubbles into the air.

It never took very good pictures anyway:
the light flat, the colors garish and maudlin.
If it mattered it mattered only because
it was our constant companion, there for
every family gathering and backyard
barbecue, a perpetual witness
to graduations and prom nights, a staunch
observer of fabrics and outfits long and,
in most cases, better forgotten (so many
awful oranges and browns!)
Little unassuming recorder and friend
of pets who have long since fetched their last,
our family talisman, carried
on every vacation, it left us a permanent
record of everything but its own
existence and presence. It could not acknowledge
itself. And it didn’t occur to any
of us, not once, to hold it up to a mirror.

Jollimore_1Troy Jollimore recently won a Guggenheim. He has written At Lake Scugog and Tom Thompson in Purgatory, which won the National Book Critics Circle Award in 2006.