Monday, 18 October 2010

Dorothy Bohm

Dorothy Bohm

We walked from frame to frame,
each a life frozen in time -
a novel to be poured over.
The photograph fulfils
my deep need to stop things
from disappearing.

How apt the statement reads to us,
the hour closing in.

Dorothy Bohm, you enthralled her.
I wish you could watch how rapture grew
on her face with each story she read:
tales your eye may have cunningly spun
out of ripped advertisement hoardings
or in a puddle’s reflection.
These novellas that all lay breathing amongst us,
waiting to be found, to be told.

The fourteen-year-old Jewish girl from East Prussia,
arriving in England in tow with her father’s parting gift -
his Leica camera.
Emerging in Manchester where she began capturing the world:
the war time baby clutching the necklace around her mother’s neck,
the pendant that to her could stave off fire and hunger.

We followed the years around the room
like the turning of the earth,
and smelt the sands of Cairo, and dipped
our toes in the ripples of the Seine,
nursed fragile trees in Andalucia, and I tripped
on a step in Spoleto which made you laugh.

And the world was ours, and we were the world,
and we wanted suddenly to be frozen in love
forever, in the back cafes of Venice, or else
captured in a Proven├žal garden, or
sitting clutching our knees by a fountain in Spain.
Somewhere in the frozen colours and rushing stills
this fractured world seemed whole,
and I loved you more than I could say.

We later stood in the foyer, and, for
a moment I was lost from myself. There
was some clicking and I turned. You looked wide
eyed, slightly short of breath as a lady
approached you. She was old, eighty-six in
fact, but never frail – strong, a softly etched
face, and kindness in her mouth. She held her
camera as if it grew from her hands
and was attuned to her eyes.

I’ve just taken the loveliest photo of you, she smiled.

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