I just took a photo of a photo
In it, a twelve- or thirteen-year-old me
sits on a wedge of carpeted stair,
a GameBoy in her hands as a fixed stare
rearranges TETRIS blocks, with her gold hair
lopped at shoulder-length, tan arms bare
and noticeably darker than a chest more fair,
a pale slope yet without cleavage; and a still air
of concentration. I doubt she knew the camera was there.
My mother sent me the photo. A friend of hers
dug it up, then passed it on.
None of us can recall where it was taken, or why:
the steps are unfamiliar, the occasion itself, if there was one,
lost to history. Still, I recognise things:
the green shirt, favourite, acquired at Christmas – my best friend had one, too;
the black crepe skirt I wore to the theatre;
the sandals, as yet new, which I wore and wore
until they fell to bits.
The GameBoy isn’t mine, though.
This one belonged to my godmother’s son,
a special clear case with black and white graphics
made (or so I can Google now) in 1995.
Mine was yellow, a colour model
not released for another three years, at which time
I saved my birthday money to buy
what my parents wouldn’t. Either way,
it dates the photo: December ’98, I think,
or early ’99.
And now I hold the image twice: once in the print
propped up on my desk, the physical copy passed
from hand to hand, plucked from some album
and mailed overseas; and now, again,
in digital form. I pull out my camera
and suddenly, I’m sucked through time and space,
back to that unknown date and unknown place
to take a photo of my younger self
with a camera more advanced than the game she holds
by a full decade –
And then I’m back, sitting at my rented desk
in Scotland, staring at a tiny screen
and the unblinking face of the girl I was,
wondering what else she knew, and did,
that was never seen.