Faith Barrett
Invisible Axis
$7.00
16 pages
2001

Derivative


When you are assigned in the photograph
fastened in the inquiry of the spreading crowd,
you coincide with the accident of your own appearing.
At the target where the avenue narrows down
the picture happens on a sign above the platform.
It's still called Germany, this suburb on the commuter line.

Jennifer seizes the park in a jagged line
while I am writing this. I station myself in a photograph.
The two concrete walks coincide in a self-conscious platform
routine drawing them on like a magnetized crowd.
People fall prey to little duties where the afternoon latches down.
The choking X of the paths lets them keep striding and appearing.

They step into the assignments of faith appearing
rhythmically above the horizon like skeet paid out in a line.
Just before he shoots, the glassy socket slams down
blue-eyed and afterwards the people in the photograph
who had cleared away the bodies became a crowd
and tried to position themselves bravely on that uneventful platform.

Not that their memories needed a channel or a platform
rather they prevailed at intervals like a fugue appearing
out of context in the aftermath. Silence confides in the crowd.
I fail to return your longing, if I unfasten the derivative line--
so the inadequate onlooker interrupts the photograph.
After the box-cars, the sky reels down.

Every afternoon is a suburb, passing through towns God hammered down
fragile as my habitual nodding off, the forever-bantering platform,
the derivative talk and blunders. A collaborator wheels to photograph
the prisoners before they can overcome their faces appearing.
From beyond the glass, the witness has to scrutinize the line
to pinpoint the innuendo clogged in amber like a crowd.

You'll do as I say, says the man to the descending crowd
refugees with repentant passports assigning destinations file down
the passage to be authenticated. A single functionary serves the line.
Any station presupposes "one nation" above the dogmatic platform,
soldiers and tourists disembarking at balanced intervals and appearing
through my migraine window, each face assigned to a photograph.

Someone takes the camera, replacing a photograph of the platform
without our knowing, my face in line among the stations of the crowd
appearing months after on the film after recollection flinches down.