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Poetry

1000 Frames

(on lesbian pornographic film
produced in 1923 Germany;
first screened illegally in France, 1924)

Tristan Silverman

Gripping at the waist, girls 
struggle to balance each other in 
their short solitude from men.  

No sound but light pressed against
A delicate piece of chemical
paper. A slow 30 seconds of

flesh on plastic, a camera 
clicking its teeth with crime, 
the man  filming shakes a little

from watching, leans 
on the wood shelf;
warehouse silence

filled in young light and 
haste and air heavy with coal.
A melody made from two 

women, their heads pressed 
together, cannot translate into
the language of air. A small boy,

crouched in the corner, stunned,
considers what he should steal to
prove it happened. This is a lonely life, 

recorded in smoke. We tell so many
lies about silk. A fabric which will fall 
into gravity's mouth, on purpose.

Its pink handshake, its puddle
landing at the girl's ankles, 
soft as eggs, while the other

becomes wing and memory 
and chipped sun on the
woman’s mouth. As if the angry

reel of film weren't rattling so
much as racing to capture them,
moving. Though, no machine yet

has understood desire, only
that so much of it is damned.
What history will let us account

for: Dust and memory, our
begging heels, the insects
swarming from the river, pushing

at the windows. The boy
wondering if bugs, shaped like
smog and mere hours from

death also long to steal some
item away. Ridges of skin wrinkled 
between the absolute fingers, or

the whisper the brunette puts in
the blonde's ear that no one,
not even the director, can hear.

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