from “Half in Shade”…
“Young Woman on Fence”
I stare at the tire because to look at her, perched on the fence, feet on the top of the tire, hands open in a suggestive shrug, is to ask the questions I can’t answer. To look at her there, in her man’s white shirt, sport coat, and tie, is to transport yourself to every dream you ever had when you were growing up. Did you know your daughter was playing baseball without her shirt, just like the boys? To look at her face with its sunken eyes, hidden behind glasses, framed by ambiguous hair, cut short–a bob, I think they would have called it–is to look at the self you did not dream of.
Cut the photo in half horizontally and you, too, sit on the white rail fence. It moves from left to right, like a line of type, a sentence stretched to its fullest. Cut it in half vertically and you leave one side blank, bereft of any interest. The right side fills with her, darkens and delineates. Now she is going nowhere. She is merely sitting there, staring at the lens. Her mouth does not lift in recognition. She stares into history, writing herself: young woman on fence.
“On the Farm”
Oh my god, who is she? I want her for my own. I want her affinity with all those chickens, her lopsided leaning, her house all atilt. I want that tipping chimney and the angle of her neck as she lets one hen push its way into her heart, another pose as a hat. I want that practical dress and the long black stockings, even the sensible shoes. The light that fattens itself on late-afternoon windows, and the shadows that lengthen the yard. The chickens that peck at their shadows, whittling away at their lives. Look at the way light catches each shingle, each brick, each clapboard lining the side of the house. Look at it fasten itself to the folds of her skirt.
This was a moment–the day of the chickens. But all days were chickens, scattering feed, and gathering eggs. Off lens: the henhouse with its strange, musty odors. Off lens: the rustle of worry at the doorway, the nattering fuss as her fingers sift through straw. Chore after chore. The lifetime that added more, and then more.