The photographer’s hallway

The photographer likes to keep 
her apartment uncluttered 
so hangs every picture she ever buys 
in the hallway and hosting a party 
finds she can only relax 
when her last guest has left 
the apartment empty again. Standing 
in the hall with her last guest 
she finds she actually wants 
to talk — ‘we might call 
the hallway a hail-way’ — detaining 
her guest by using the pictures 
as ‘conversation pieces’. 
She keeps her there 
for half an hour and still 
it seems her guest leaves in 
a hurry deterred perhaps by her 
come-hither eyes, though once home 
the guest dreams not of her come-hither 
eyes but the ‘with’ withheld 
a hallway out of reach, 
the recurring melting 
of a chronic glacier. 
Meanwhile the photographer remains 
awake, unable to sleep not only 
while there are dishes to wash 
and put away, cushions to return 
to their places, but while 
there are still pictures 
in the hallway — suddenly 
she finds the hall too much 
of a receptacle, determines 
to stack everything 
that was on display away 
in rows on the floor 
of her cavernous wardrobe. 

The photographer’s Olympics

The photographer has a friend 
she sometimes sleeps with who instead 
is watching the Olympics, something 
of no interest to the photographer 
until the women’s triathlon screens 
and she is entranced 
by the sight of the women’s arms 
lifting and rising in and out of the water 
black like eels in a swarm 
curling and calling 
one to another — she wishes 
the screen would remain full of the arms 
and nothing but the arms for the duration 
of the race. Although she stays put 
on the sofa and watches the chase group of cyclists 
catch up and absorb the lead group, and 
goes on to watch the last of the breakaway runners 
fall behind, the four in front take their places 
at the finish line, it is the screen-shot 
of arms rising and falling she sees as she falls 
asleep that night and for night after night 
to come. It is all 
she wants to photograph but the stills 
are nothing without the movement 
and so for the first time 
she takes to photographing faces, 
the stills betraying an extremity of 
emotion not apparent 
on the move. This 
is the worst disaster of her career — 
this photographing faces, this creation 
of ‘portraits’ — the word makes her want 
to throw up in the sink, having woken 
early full of a dread the exact equivalent 
of that dark and sinuous mass of arms 
rising and falling on the screen. 


Anna Jackson lives in Island Bay, Wellington, and lectures in the English programme at Victoria University. She has published four collections of poetry with Auckland University Press, and the poems in Turbine will be included in a fifth collection forthcoming in 2014.