Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, DON'T START, by ROBERT FARNSWORTH



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DON'T START, by            
First Line: Over the phone, through which we struggled
Subject(s): Cameras


Over the phone, through which we struggled
so clumsily all those many years ago, I try now
to describe the process of loading the camera.

But I don't have the vocabulary to convey the steps,
which aren't difficult, just (for a decade's worth
of my having done them by touch) inarticulable.

And we almost tumble back into something like
those old set-tos, but save ourselves. The boys
are asleep in the suite's next room after a long day

sightseeing, and neither of us could bear having
bickered at such a distance. Yet we used to bear it
somehow, didn't we, remember? Now, because

I know it's coming, I'm charmed by the rehearsal
of your aversion to cameras. You keep fumbling
the leader into place across the tiny room behind

the shutter, and while I ask if you can feel little
cogs through the bordering perforations, I am
thinking of our wild sister-in-law, who calls

monthly for commiserating sighs to punctuate
her circular ventilations of pain, and how you
hand me the phone with a good luck look

that says you've forgotten those anguished toll-call
silences between us twenty years ago. Now
I'm judging the progress of the fire I've read beside

all evening, and then you divine somehow,
perhaps in a faintly anxious mid-sentence quaver,
my intention to be off soon, to leave the house

for some hours (the theater and a beer) --
you hear my intention to be gone, you hear.
And in your voice I hear, with an exquisite quarter-swoop

of spirit, I hear your consequent shift
in tone, a certain cool flatness there, even as I
also hear the camera click shut and the auto-winder

whir. But we don't start, as once we might have,
no -- I say where I am going, and you where you're
off to with the boys and the camera tomorrow,

and you yawn good-bye, until Sunday at the airport.
For better or for worse (and it's thrilling not to
know which), we don't, as once we might have, start.








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