fingerprints & cake

I miss the physicality of old photos
the shapes
and rounded edges,
even the hesitancy to touch them

in my albums
they’re all uniform rectangles
protected by a plastic sheen,
and I suppose I could forgive
them by saying it’s what’s inside
that counts,
but there is more

every photo comes with at least
one memory attached, hanging
just out of shot
and having only a little bit to
do with what’s visible

like me in our old kitchen,
still with long hair and
wearing a t-shirt
long since extinct
and, it appears, for some reason

but what I remember about it now
is not the truth about my pose,
but the half-glimpsed microwave

where a simple butter cake
burnt a plastic bowl
and we couldn’t use the kitchen
for the rest of the day,
and of course, rightly so,
someone wanted to know
what kind of crappy cake could be baked
in a microwave anyway?

20 thoughts on “fingerprints & cake

    • Wow! Thank you, I’m feeling more and more happy with it!

      It’s not in a book yet – I’ll certainly try to get it in one though, if I can get a 3rd book published, it will definitely be in there!

  1. I have a big plastic crate of photo’s that I was tempted to throw out almost ten years. I kept them stored in a dark corner just in case their meaning changed one day; just as this piece suggests that they may. Great piece, Ashley.

    • Hey, Brad! Thank you! Great to hear you never ended up throwing them out – I reckon there’s always a chance that they will change

      I found another photo from the same house and it did the same thing, whatever was inside was kinda brushed away as an attached memory took over

  2. I love this poem. The way one memory (the photo) leads quickly to a sequence of events. The extinct t-shirt is a classic line. I was a bit confused by the photo reference in that you say ‘plastic sheen’ – I assume you are talking about photos on a computer? but I was thinking about photos in an album with a plastic cover. Or have I got that completely wrong.

    • Thank you! 🙂 Glad you like the flow, I spent more than a bit of time trying to get it right.

      Not at all, you’re spot on – it’s the photo album’s plastic protectors, that we slide the photos in and out of, just like you were thinking!

  3. Hey Ash, this is a fantastic poem. Digital photos and e-books have their purpose, but holding an old photo, an image captured, however embarrassing (not that dancing in a kitchen is embarrassing!) is not something that can be reproduced in binary, the memories flow thicker than a barrage on the olfactory, and your poem has captured this feeling perfectly and pounded my memories.

  4. There’s a lovely touch to this poem Ash. The burned plastic bowl of the crappy packet cake is a mundane moment. But the poem, or the poem inspired mind, draws from that small kitchen disaster, an elemental moment of family.

  5. taking old photographs out and turning them around. noting a beauty in a wavy edge or a caption handwritten on the back.
    perfectly funny too.
    also, i thought of a museum gallery of photographs. any connection beyond the image itself to what the subject or artist may have been actually doing/feeling at the time is by chance to the viewer unless that one is either in the picture or the one having taken it. but it seems like you have interwoven both objective and subjective in a multidimensional way with finesse

    • yeah, love the inscriptions on the back too!
      I agree, there, re: the taking or featuring in a photo can be so important to those attached memories & meanings. Bit like a ‘you had to be there’ story – which is rarely funny to those who weren’t, but I’m glad I avoided that! 🙂

  6. HA! I love this, great ending.. burnt microwave cake mmmmmm… old photos contrasted (in my mind) with all the photos on mobile phones straight to facebook or myspace.. you’ve really caught the experience.

  7. Thanks, Amanda! Great to see you here (pretty excited about Stylus, how about you?) and really glad you liked this one. Me too – isn’t the photo truly ‘instant’ now? And not just because of the digital production etc (which is old news I guess) but ‘instant’ in the way it’s communicated.

    Going through someone else’s (friend, lover, family etc) photo album is quite an intimate thing, almost an event. It’s not like that with social networking sites, huh?

    Yeah, that poor cake – I really stuffed that one up beautifully!

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