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Time and again
 

There is so much of the past wrapped up
In the present, timeless, classic, vintage,
Never lost its charm, Always up-to-date...
 

Perched on a huge studio Ottoman, she struck
An unforgettable heart-stopping figure, white
Shawl, white court shoes, white pearls, a long
String worn both as a choker to enhance her
Beautiful neck and as a tumbling cascade of
Daring feminine independence, a wholly erotic
Devil-may-care touch of cheerful recklessness
Running the full length of her back. A faded
Photograph that spoke to me across time, and
Drew me into a story I longed to know more
About.
 

White shawl, white court shoes, white pearls, that
Was it, nothing left to the imagination and ‘boy’ did
This 1915 camera love her? I’ll say it did and so
Did I - instantly. Problem was I live in the present
Day and she was a model living in Paris in 1916
And there was no way we could ever hope to
Meet.
 

It was a Wednesday and the museum almost
Deserted, no school trips, no students, no casual
Visitors and so I had the place to myself apart from
A guard employed to keep an eagle-eye out for
Anything suspicious and who acknowledge me with
A nod as he toured the exhibits.
 

The old plate camera was big enough to sit in,
Resting on rack and pinion runners with a large
Handle that moved the whole shooting match
Backwards and forwards with a view to securing
A crisp image. The camera, so the story goes,
Had a peculiar distinction, it was claimed to have
Been used to capture images of fairies and ghosts,
And, if all is to be believed, had done so very
Successfully indeed.
 

A likely story I thought, and truly an epic step in
Photography if true. However unlikely the tale, the
Beauty in the shawl, shoes and pearls had also
Graced the huge lens of this camera and for this
Reason alone I wanted to learn more about it.
Chairs had been arranged in front of the camera in
Preparation for a talk due to begin that evening at
7pm and here then at 3pm on a quiet afternoon was
The perfect opportunity for me to linger.
 

I chose a middle chair directly in front of the lens,
Made myself comfortable and began sketching.
When it was I feel asleep I honestly don't remember;
But I do vaguely recall the cold mist that enveloped
Around the camera, slowly rolling across the
Polished floor in my direction turning the room, the
Camera, and the row of chairs dazzling white. I
Awoke later in an unfamiliar place, in an unfamiliar
Time.
 

The first thing to hit my senses was perfume, and
Secondly opening my eyes there she was the
Beautiful model in the photograph, posing nude
In front of a camera, the epitome of professional
Photography at the time. Virtually brand new its
Brass work shining brightly and its highly polished
Woodwork magnificent. I took out my iPhone to
Record the scene and there in my hand a slice of
Silicon and some odd bits that one day in the future
Would become semiconductors, my phone didn't
Exist in the old world in which I found myself; and
Now it was getting dark and the man operating
The camera lit a spill and gave life to a gas mantle,
 

The model smiled at me, threw me a kiss, skipped off
The set and nipping behind a screen quickly dressed
and upon reappearing nestled her arm in mine and
Off we went to Maxim’s. Why I never questioned any
Of this is still a mystery; but an even bigger mystery
Persists to this day at the Museum: who sat the
Withered corpse in front of the camera, and why was
The silicon crystal in its hand ringing?
 

© Joseph G Dawson