Father’s Camera

So old now it is nearly antique,
its black leather scarred and pitted,
with only a faint trace of its tannin smell.
The name Retina is engraved across the back
which opens with a lever on the left side.

Remnants of the Kodak Film label remain,
stuck to the inside cover. Two knobs on the top
advance and rewind. A dial counts
the exposures, thirty-six in all,
three more than the years of his life.

The glass in the viewfinder is cloudy.
The camera’s eye is closed behind
its cover; its lens and aperture remain
tucked away, inside the darkness of its body,
resting on their accordion-pleated bellows, silent and still.

It lies cold and heavy, like a revolver, on my palm.
My hand so reminiscent of his hand, broad
and pudgy-fingered.  In a photo, he stands
tall in his volunteer fire department uniform,
my little hand resting securely in his. 

Push the secret silver button hidden
on the bottom of its case and the cover 
moves up and out, the lens and aperture
and all their settings and dials slide forward
making almost no sound, just a soft click
and a quiet papery whoosh of unfolding.

Virginia Bach Folger lives in an 1888 Victorian house in Schenectady, New York. She has worked as a gas station attendant, an insurance claims adjuster, and a corporate learning and development manager. Her work has been published or is forthcoming in Concho River Review, Eclectica, Lumina, and The Fourth River.