Poem with vertical viewfinder

‘Well, I suppose nothing is meant to last forever. We have to make room for other people. It’s a wheel, we get on, we have to go to the end, and someone else takes your place. Now I’m going to close, and quickly run next door to do my work.’
Vivian Maier

If in future an image of mine—
of course, I have made 
the if-ness of your looking a multiple
Ferris wheel turned to trolley car
trundling down the street. Damn, 
I will show you 
something all right
here, inside the daily or what you call private. 
I am actually a very private person. 
I have cultivated a certain 
so uncertain I don’t even need 
rich women in hairnets and furs. 
But I will show, like it or not, their shiny
draped critters dangling claws. 
With my will I will make 
	of the squashed cat, the toppled
horse pooling blood on the road, the child
on his front, head skewered sideways, 
something meticulous, all right, yes, 
I was t/here. Years before Netflix. 
	I come with my life, there’s a lot of it, 
my conditions are
the room must be fitted with a lock.
The ash on the sidewalk, 
since you’re a ghost, makes 
having flesh a chair on fire, 
the interior close-up a wire 
wastepaper 		ragdoll 
sitting on top. I constitute 
in vertical 
the view from behind: family 
	man in coat and hat, 
two children on roller skates, 
puddled pathway gleaming.
Girl-child in profile, looking back. 
	I will get so close you don’t even notice
and you will be forced to accommodate 
I am not afraid
of your presence in motion:
open-faced, or flinching, your eyes
suspicious. What’s there to see
in a wall of piled-up crates,
or a mattress-maker’s pockets sprouting string?
	Men, for the most part, are nasty, 
but I will show you desire in a striped dress 
and twill pants, the slenderness 
of waistbands and wrists. You will 
laugh at the maverick breeze 
blowing up a polka-dotted hemline, 
the absurd personality of knees. 
I never heard of Diane Arbus, 
but maybe that’s a way of saying
she never had to work in a factory
or as someone’s nanny—when my newest 
	employer enquires as to my lack
of health insurance, and am I worried about it, 
hey! The poor are so poor they don’t have time to die. 
And yet I follow their murders in the papers.
In the foreground, a sunstruck puddle 
tunnels the trio you are still looking at 
in wintery reflection, upside-down.
	I am a difficult person, as you know.
Don’t ask why I never had children.
That is not a pertinent question. I 
hello! hello? but you’re my friend …
please don’t go
	found myself once in a removalist’s mirror, 
still swathed at the base in blankets. 
He had his back to me as he lifted the glass, 
its sheer diagonal too good to miss. 
I saw time seconds before 
the world bestowed it, and I was able 
	and ready 
to snap myself in that bare-branched boon,
oh, I can tell you, but it won’t be me. 
	I have never had a steady
home, but I will show you a child 
in a headscarf doing a handstand
outside the Strip-o-Rama, next to 
a child in a curtain skirt and plaid shirt 
examining a hole in her shoe. 
I 	know about angles and how to frame them.
	Come on, you must have an opinion. 

Note: lines in italics quote Vivian Maier directly, sourced from selected voice recordings in the documentary film Finding Vivian Maier (2013), directed by John Maloof and Charlie Siskel. Photographic material sourced in Maloof, John (Ed), Vivian Maier: Street Photographer, Powerhouse Books: Brooklyn, NY, 2011.

Image: Fernando Gomez

Shari Kocher

Shari Kocher is an Australian poet, fiction-writer, researcher and therapist. Widely published and anthologised in Australia and elsewhere, including in Best of Australian Poems 2021, Kocher’s work has won or been shortlisted for numerous awards. Her two books of poetry are Foxstruck and Other Collisions (Highly Commended for the NSW Premier’s Literature Awards Kenneth Slessor Poetry Prize 2022) and The Non-Sequitur of Snow (Highly Commended in the Anne Elder Awards 2015). In 2021 she won the Blue Knot Foundation Award, while her poem ‘Wintercearig’ was longlisted in Overland’s Kuracca Prize for Australian Literature. Kocher holds a PhD from Melbourne University and lives and works on the sovereign land of the Dja Dja Wurrung people. www.sharikocher.com

More by Shari Kocher ›

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