litany for the long moment, 1

Elizabeth Gumport: “Woodman reveals the injuries that occur in the time it takes to produce a single picture: hair turns wispy, flesh fades and stretches into smoke. The longer her shutter stays open, the blurrier and more transparent bodies will appear until at last, they disappear. Shortly before her death, she began experimenting with a particularly long development process that required her to spend several hours producing a single photograph. In the end, the camera captures not the girl, but the long moment it looked at her.”

-=-

In the countryside, in the afternoon, she gathers up slender stalks of lavender as the sun sets. Her brother stands nearby, watching.

When she is done, they walk back to the house in silence. The cooling breeze. The fading light.

She fills the room with white feathers. She hangs dead birds in rows on the wall. This room in ruins. Late light.

-=-

Susan Sontag: “But essentially the camera makes everyone a tourist in other people’s reality, and eventually in one’s own.”

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In a dream: I knelt by a locked door. There was a keyhole and through the keyhole, I saw a white bed, untouched.

I have always been baffled by fathers.

I went there, to stay with him. Washed lettuce in the sink while he slept.

The heat of the city pressed down on us. The sky was bruised and blue.

We argued over love. Its insufficiencies. He said: You are too young to have such hardness in your heart.

In the news: a dog left keening in a crate on the steps of the animal shelter.

The nurse said: It will be soon, but it will not be tonight.

-=-

Peggy Phelan: “Our encounter with the photograph always occurs after the event recorded within it. The belatedness of photography reminds us of our tendency to arrive too late and perhaps especially to arrive too late to appreciate the unique drama of our own mortality.”

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I left my father in his city of death. There were men in other cities. Houston. San Diego. Newport by the sea.

Everywhere I went, flags flew at half-mast, but no one could remember why.

Cities of perpetual mourning.

Barthes says each photograph contains its future death: This will be and this has been. Whether or not the subject is already dead, every photograph is this catastrophe…. That is dead and that is going to die.

-=-

Peggy Phelan: “Art, like all things human, succumbs to death. But that does not mean we leave no trace of our attempt to live and to create despite our vanishing.”