Thursday, September 19, 2013

My mother photographs a winter tree, circa 1954

Sometimes, back in the world of developed and printed pictures before he left home, my eldest son would flip through the 36 shots--flip, flip, flip-- saying, "Where are the people?" It has never occurred to me until recently that I might have learned most of my ideas about what it would be fun to photograph (No lining up, no saying "CHEESE" no bossiness from the photographer. Just take pictures of what IS and maybe move a little closer or to one side.)

This is is one of the windows that my mother made by accretion in a photo I took on a visit to Shaker Heights. Now I wish I had lined it up a little better. I just had a lot of my mother's slides scanned and I am very glad I did. This tree is one of them, but most of them DO have people.

Here in Northern Michigan, we had frost a couple of nights ago that turned the leaves of the tomato plants in daughter K's garden translucent.  And now the maple leaves are just beginning to turn. So it really is true: winter is coming..

As a Swedish poet and person, Tomas Transtromer is well acquainted with winter. He has also been on this blog before! This is because he is an essential poet for me. I was so glad when he got the Nobel Prize for poetry in 2011!


We are at a party that doesn't love us. Finally the party lets
the mask fall and show what it is: a shunting station for
freight cars. In the fog cold giants stand on their tracks. A
scribble of chalk on cardoors..
   One can't say it aloud but there is a lot of repressed
violence here. That is why the furnishings seem so heavy.
And why it is so difficult to see the other thing present: a
spot of sun that moves over the house walls and slips over
the unaware forest of flickering faces, a biblical saying
never set down: " Come unto me, for I am as full of
contradictions as you."
   I work the next morning somewhere else. I drive there in
a hum through the dawning hour which resembles a dark
blue cylinder. Orion hangs over the frost. Children stand
in a silent clump, waiting for the schoolbus, the children
no one prays for. The light grows as gradually as our hair.

Tomas Transtromer, translated by Robert Bly from Truth Barriers, Sierra Club Books, 1980, page 32.

The motion of this poem is astonishing and natural (at the same time) to me. It includes individual life and worries, concern for others, the natural world, the iron world of machinery and modern life and so much more. I love the unexpected and wonderful shifting here. Read it over again, out loud! And sleep well.

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