The Film

by Chad Sweeney

In the year 1210, in that town
which is now Barcelona,
a woman named Amalia
directed the first film,
in real time, like an Andy Warhol,
of a pile of golden apples in the market

and of the light that knew to bring out
the spots of green or blush or the violet tips
of straw which formed a bed beneath the apples,
and of the hands and their shadows—
the film was mostly about the hands and their shadows—
which arrived all day to touch the apples,

hands missing a thumb or with a hoof print
in the palm, shadows which traced
and rearranged the fruit
and in a way rearranged the light
and the dust motes that hung
like primitive sequins in that light,

rough fingers which crossed the screen
in chiaroscuro,
in the carriage of dancers or pall bearers,
hands which appeared to think
while touching the bruises and stems,
and would sometimes place an apple in a bag.

And though the machinery of cinema
would not be invented for centuries,
and though this film was something
dreamed of rather than manifest,
the apples and the hands it memorized
were real.

CHAD SWEENEY is the author of three books of poetry, Parable of Hide and Seek (Alice James, 2010), Arranging the Blaze (Anhinga, 2009), and An Architecture (BlazeVOX, 2007) and editor of Days I Moved Through Ordinary Sounds: The Teachers of WritersCorps in Poetry and Prose (City Lights, 2009). Sweeney’s work has appeared in Best American Poetry, Crazyhorse, New American Writing, Colorado Review, Black Warrior, and elsewhere. He is coeditor of Parthenon West Review and is working toward a Ph.D. in literature at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, where he teaches poetry and serves as assistant editor of New Issues Press.