“Sometimes we find our inherent selves in youth. It is a recognition of something that at first is small within us, that we will grow into somehow” The Cat’s Table, Michael Ondaatje
I was struck by these thoughts. They have woven themselves into me, and they have pressed up against a barrier on the way out.
I am seeing a small girl standing on the tailgate of truck. (Is that right? Did we have a truck at that time? I do remember being high up.) She is standing with a brown rectangular box in her hands. A camera. Her first. As I remember this I am watching my younger self. One of those third person memories, where you are separate from the girl you are looking at, but you are also in her, and are her. Those memories can’t always be trusted. They are both real and not real. They ripple with distortion.
As you are protectively watching her, she glances over her shoulder, as if for reinforcement. As though you are her buttress. And you know that you are.
She is marking time. No. She is stopping time. Marking changes.
click. that click seems so quiet. a pause. these images she is making are just whispers in time. there are people here in the landscape, but is that what she is trying to hold on to?
Something tangible will remain. It will be a small paper square with a white border. The surface glossy. The white border is appropriate because it is a landscape of snow. White, grey and cold. On the cusp of a warmer season. (those people; what do they look like now?)
You can almost smell the plasticity of the brown box. The smell of the film. The acrid odour of a just-burned flashbulb. It is powerful, that particular sense. A sense that can send you back into a memory as fast as a swirling twister. One quick spiraling breath and you are there. Fleetingly. But in that snippet of time you remember that sensation.
The power of pausing time. Shaping images.
click. it is a quiet place this marking of moments. are they shaped to her favour? if the memories can’t be trusted, can the images? are they too, manipulated by time? it doesn’t matter. she is fond of the layers that time settles on these moments, she is easily pulled into the riddles. click. exhale. she is still lost in this visual space. still at times, glancing over her shoulder. i am watching her, still.
© Karen McRae, 2012