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POETRYETC  October 2008

POETRYETC October 2008

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Subject:

memory snap: The Projectionist

From:

Max Richards <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Poetryetc: poetry and poetics

Date:

Wed, 8 Oct 2008 09:52:42 +1100

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (77 lines)

&#8232;The Projectionist

The primary school shares the same sky
as the railway workshops; 
has concrete air raid shelters, 
useless now, since we beat Japan;

a green football field, clay 
where boys play marbles, in season,&#8232;
girls skip; six bare classrooms, 
lavatories&#8232;nasty Ė better to hold on; 

kids who are roughs or waifs,&#8232;
all of us in cheap clothing, &#8232;
some with runny noses and bare feet, 
and my father as head-teacher.&#8232; 

Itís 1946, this is 
Randwick near Wellington; out
of bounds, beyond the stop-bank,
the riverís forcing its way past fast.

Here nothing happens, slowly, till
Father does some fundraising Ė  
a projector comes, rare and fragile.&#8232;
He learns how to make it work.
  &#8232;
No one else is allowed near.
None of us young ones have ever 
seen anything on any screen;  &#8232;
weíre agog for Charlie Chaplin.

Children and parents come one night
to fatherís classroom. From home 
Mumís lent him a white sheet; he fixes 
it up straight, I switch off the light,

whirring begins, the sheet brightens.
Flickering black and white humans 
stalk the sheet. Something is happening.
A man climbs on a diving board,
 
trots out, dives, splashes, vanishes.
Father flicks a switch, time freezes; flicks 
again, feet first the diver rises,&#8232;
curves back up onto the board.&#8232;
&#8232;
All of us squeal with pleasure.
The eveningís films, all short,
are never better than when Father,&#8232;
powerful and popular,&#8232; 

flicks that switch, the image freezes, &#8232;
time halts, reverses, pauses, &#8232;
moves forward again, taking us &#8232;
all with it along, along.&#8232;&#8232;

Going home in Dadís Austin Seven,
dreaming new powers, camera
projector and screen, a rapt crowd,
the river pulsing under the night sky.

A log like a floating man sweeps past fast,
vanishes. My camera eye strains and fails. 

  8 October 2008

  Max Richards
Doncaster, Victoria





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