In the Fall issue of the Apple Valley Review a large number of poems with attractively quirky titles. This one seemed shiniest. The poem proves a good read, too.
“Mark Twain and Dorothy Quick Sit for Photographs, 1907”
by Rob Hardy
It was beautiful, surpassingly beautiful, enchantingly beautiful; and now it is lost, and I shall not see it any more.
—Mark Twain, Eve’s Diary (1906)
In the beginning of another century,
they sat in the garden, her head on his shoulder,
her white dress drifting against his white suit,
snowflake and glacier, two clean white pages,
as if he were God, and she an outgrowth of His own rib,
Adamless. She was the first of the well-behaved
little girls he collected in old age—his Angelfish,
floating decorously in white dresses through
his billiard room, or sitting for photographs, their bodies
a concentration of chemicals and sunlight. Here,
he holds a cigar in his right hand, and she holds a black
box in her lap—a purse or a Brownie camera—
and it is hard with our post-Freudian eyes not to read
sex into the picture, lurking symbolically like a snake.
Puberty would expel them from his garden. His angels
would fall into bodies that marked time, and would only
remind him he was old. He wanted them to stay
as they were in photographs, shimmering beside him,
white on white, a comet for the beginning
and for the end of life. He collected them in the photographer’s
black box, the bright images of his Angelfish swimming
out of darkness, their white bodies developing
into pure absence. Here, his cigar will never burn down,
and can never be enjoyed, and the photograph can only show him
his desire to possess an innocence he has already lost.