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Photograph of poet Gig Elizabeth Ryan by John Tranter. R17

Photograph of poet Gig Elizabeth Ryan, 4 February 1982, by John Tranter. R17


‘A photograph
acquires something of the dignity which it ordinarily lacks
when it ceases to be a reproduction of reality
and shews us things that no longer exist.’
 — Proust

On the Other Hand

Where the camera should stare back at us from the glass there’s a scribble of electrical wiring, the guts of a dead radio. Her left hand hidden in her pocket ― is there a ring? Her right hand hidden behind her back. She’s holding something ― a knife?
     On the one hand, her dress, her decor: no collar, no edging, no pleats, no lipstick, no necklace, no earrings, no watch, no frills. On the other hand, the flat sheet of glass stuffed with lace, reflections that refuse to be a mirror ― it’s a cupboard now, choked with old wedding dresses and the blurred idea of a garden.
     The double door without a handle. No one ever passes through it, you imagine. A keyhole without a key, and never locked.
     Or so completely locked that it is never opened; closed on some day of disaster, forever hidden, put away, like the young woman’s hands.
     She waits for the faint click, then she’ll look up to the skyline behind the photographer, the horizon heaped with pale saffron-coloured clouds.