A Moment In The Sun (Daguerre’s ‘Boulevard Du Temple’ (1838) is the first photograph in which people are visible.)
A shorter exposure time and I’d have been there, dancing between the shoe-shine boy and the old man on the bench or skipping past the house on the corner with the child peeping round a curtain, the woman at an upstairs window. Like them, I could have lived forever, my slender figure immortalised and gazed on far into the future, its outline shadowy, but there, captured on a sheet of silver-plated copper and preserved beneath this pane of glass. My one mistake was moving. Only perfect stillness, sustained for minutes, etched itself on the fragile surface. That’s why, like all the bustle of the street, the clattering carts and cabs, the carriages, the rumbling horse-drawn omnibus and all the ladies strolling down the boulevard with fluttering parasols, I disappeared. Look. No trace of me remains. A few more years, perhaps, a different camera, larger faster lens and I might have been a blur, a ghost still faint, but clearly visible, the sun warming my hair as I leap to touch a leaf on the stooping sycamore.
Doreen Hinchliffe the poems