Saturday 6 June 2020

'Jump-off Point' by Tara Isabel Zambrano

How the photographer almost takes a picture, when a flicker from her painted nails hits his eye, how he greets her in the elevator, a few times, and after a week, in a party, she tips her head to the side trying to recognize him, then straightens up, and without realizing, he starts mouthing words to a playing song, and yeah, she laughs, and after, after, after, probably a month, lying on his bed, post a long convergence of strokes, mouths and spines, he positions his camera as she gets up to dress, his finger circling over the button, nervous, hopeful, and how weeks later they click pictures of a lamppost in front of his apartment, subsequently she compares the darkroom, the chemical bath as an afterlife, a jump-off point, if there’s such a thing, and then confesses about her boyfriend of five years, and how the photographer is silent for a long beat, unsure what he’s looking at, if the light reflecting from the edges of her body is all that he has taken in so far, thereafter, he throws his camera on the floor, the lens damaged, held together by a plastic ring and how every picture he takes is a reminder of imperfection, while the world goes on even the radio in his car is set to her favorite jazz station, and how a year later, when he answers the door, she’s unrecognizable: a shaved head, dull blue-grey eyes that sink deep into his skull like heavy stones, making him realize that he hasn’t spoken her name in a while and how she requests for a picture, smiling, as if it would have any effect on him but oh it does and how he directs her to stand next to the lamppost, her legs wobbly, this will only take a minute, he shouts, the startling authenticity in his voice while he adjusts the broken camera, she’s blurry, beautiful, smoothing the front of her dress, perhaps chemo-hollowed, but all he wants to know is if she dreams of his head buried between her thighs until her breath hitches in her throat, and when he says, ready, how her eyes open to a flash and how he catches it in the black hole of his camera to later rinse it, float her anew.


  1. Perfect breathless paragraph - love it.

  2. Wow - masterclass in how to write a breathless paragraph - and that ending...


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