Saturday, November 3, 2007


(1950's postcard of Cliff House)

Nobody went to the camera obscura
People were everywhere else, swarming
stagnant ruins of the old Sutro
Talking about Harold and Maude or
when Silverman shut down the bathhouses
Pouring dimes and nickels into
the Musee Mechanique
Watching seals, standing in line
to eat reheated chowder and watered cocoa

A few bothered to climb Sutro Heights, read
about how he brought eucalyptus to the parks
But none noticed the Statue of Diana where
in 1978, dyke witches held full moon rituals
Sneaking in after dark to strip and, well, you
can just imagine

The camera obscura is expensive for
something without electrical parts
Even in 1978, it cost a dollar
which was a meal or a matinee
The sign outside is old-fashioned

The few who go in tend to complain
loudly in the dark, decide to head instead
to Ocean Beach where parking is free

The beach where I first had sex
after moving to San Fran
with a woman who wanted me
much, much more than I wanted her
I had on a red and white striped
men's shirt from Goodwill
Baggy overalls with room for her hands
I didn't come

Once you pay admission to the
camera obscura, you can stay
as long as you like. There is no sound
The image is upside down
Colors distilled, concentrated
So few of them left anywhere
The invention that led to photography
but this is a living stream, the world
right outside, unaware of being watched
Believing they comprehend time

© Maggie Jochild, 3 November 2007, 7:14 a.m.

(Inside the Camera Obscura, photo © 2006 Betsy Malloy)

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