Back There in the Dark: A Cinema Poem by Sam Sewell-Peterson

Back There in the Dark


You’ve been quiet for too long now

Temple to dreams and imagination

Empty seats and deserted isles

We’ve not forgotten our big screen infatuation


Rustling in packets and shifting in seats

Community, belonging and a shared experience

Dawdling late-comers, whisperers and mid-film phone-flashers

Even the worst audience reminds us of our fragile human transience


The trailers are a necessary concession

Will you see one film next month or five?

You don’t mind so much teasing a movie

But cool it with all the ads for cars you won’t drive


After a moment the lights snuff out

The universe seems to pause, taking a breath

The void envelops all

Capture this moment and it would be a beautiful death.


The screen holds a magic all its own

Spellbinding, time-stopping and luminescent

Your only connection to the outside world

Is the vaguest awareness of the person sitting adjacent


Heroes clash and families squabble

Vast alien worlds and pokey apartments alike projected humongous

Whatever the scale of the story being told

It’s always about what it means to be us


An hour-and-a-half passes in a blink

Maybe two, perhaps three

Before you know it the spell is broken

You emerge from the darkness dazed and smiling with glee


That is unless it was a bad film you saw

Time wasted and patience tried

But ultimately any cinema trip is better than none

It’s a social experience, not something to abide


The post-film discussion is next

Breathless, earnest and true

Out into the foyer we all spill

Hold that thought while I nip to the loo


That wasn’t as good as I expected

What film were you watching? I was grinning ear-to-ear

I guess we’ll agree to disagree

Won’t be making my top ten end of the year


Then homeward we drift

Part of us left back there in the dark

Already pining for the next time

We can visit that realm so vivid and stark


So gather the film faithful and march

Through those doors and sit down

Spread the word that cinemas are back

I’m crying so much I could drown!

By Sam Sewell-Peterson

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