Here is a man, in a photograph
naked. I do not know him; nonetheless
I admire and praise his flesh.
Wide shoulders. Smooth, cool biceps.
His hint of power held diffidently,
but certainly held.
The soft worm of the penis, sleeping.
His black hair. Coupled thighs.
All this I admire:
he is, above all, very much himself.
Somewhere there may be a woman, naked
in a photograph.
I imagine and I praise her.
Her long red hair; her arms.
Her neat breasts, tender hips,
scalloped neck where the proud vein shows.
The energy of her eyes; her stomach’s truth,
her chin’s restraint.
All this I adore.
She is, above all, very much for real.
What if, in the night
of closed up pages, this pair should meet?
Would there then be passion in paper?
Tumescence of nitrate? Cold colour
moist once more? Would they,
flesh-tints in the prisms of their eyes,
rip out and join in full dimensions?
And after, while the shutter sleeps
and the image that was taken is dark,
they might converse; might exchange
their warmth in pictures. They might discuss
the secret verities of flatness; the comfort
and precision of distance;
the lies of colour. All these
they might whisper of, wrapped in the surprise
of each other’s breath, eager and live.
(first published in Avocado Magazine)
Brian Evans-Jones teaches Creative Writing for the Open University and Winchester University, as well as in schools and community settings. He is Hampshire Poet for 2012-13.