Passport Pictures

by Helen Mort

We lie, empty, on the grass,
waiting for
the thoughts of the world
to pollinate our sleepy brains,
and all that I know is how
I want them to capture us now;
not bleached with effort
in a broken booth, but here –
our hands stamped with memories,
your steam-breath seducing mine,
twining round in lazy courtship.
I want to see this time
immortalised, want them to find us,
ripe with frozen pleasures and stories,
to be picked and savoured.
They all fall at once. I am struck
by the salt we drank in Havana,
the beggar man who
grabbed you with his yellow palms.
I turn too late;
bruised by Tibetan snow
and history, I look away
from the snake of children
climbing the mountain
and the thunderstorm
we flew through.
Sense it, planted deep
inside your head.
If I look hard enough,
I see your face
as your cheating laughter
ripples across Australia
and you stand in the wedding shop
lying through your teeth.
Deeper still, I find
a boat in Spain, the greed
of the waves and the
burn of the sun
on your red shoulders.
I turn away now.
Birds on the horizon
snap their wings like shutters
and all of it is gone
in the flicker of a phrase.