I fill this cup to one made up of loveliness alone
A woman, of her gentle [nature] the seeming paragon;
To whom the better elements and kindly stars have given
A form so fair, that like the air, ‘tis less of earth than heaven.
Her every tone is music’s own, like those of morning birds,
And something more than melody dwells ever in her words;
The coinage of her heart are they, and from her lips each flows
As one may see the burthened bee forth issue from the rose…
— Edward Coate Pinkney, from A Health
I had never made the connection, never realized the two art forms are one in the same: poetry and photography. Today, it dawned on me that I have been making poems with my camera.
It startled me recently when the poems came to me in words, too, like surprise guests. An obliging hostess, I whittled them from my fingertips, and finished each one with tears.
Today as I reflected on the relationship between poetry and photography, I remembered this poem by Ezra Pound:
In the Station of the Metro
The apparition of these faces in the crowd;
Petals on a wet, black bough.
Why are you bringing that with us?
his eyes inquire as I pick up after him.
I peel the plastic bag from my wrist
and pull the end into a knot.
Why don’t we leave it?
He flicks his tail from question to exclamation
and back again.
We walk on.
I hold the sack in one hand, our tether in the other.
He trots ahead, sniffing up trees, along patches of grass.
How could he possibly understand the considerations,
The reasons I don’t just leave that behind?
There are proper ways to dispose of things.
I startle myself with an odd sense of pride that rises inside
Pride about carrying shit with me, not leaving it behind.
When I do let it fall, finally,
into a cylindrical receptacle
beside a bus stop on Hawthorne,
He is busy lifting a leg across the sidewalk,
Our tether taut,
On some low shrubs.
His eyes meet mine.
Ready? Let’s go!
He is bounding now.
His body undulating and otterlike
As we tear down the sidewalk,
Take corners swiftly
And plunge into our treelush neighborhood.
He pulls me into the rose garden.
Chase me! Get me!
He chomps at the leash and bows.
I unhook him and we run
After each other
Around the rose bushes
Drooping with roses.
I got you! Come get me!
We find one another
And then he rolls on his back
On the fuchsia petals that dot the grass
And I rub his belly because we are both empty
And there is nothing that needs holding on to.
She, plied with black viscous coffee
And full of crumbling day-old donuts,
Remarkably intoxicated by all manner of words-
Top shelf, pulp, even bathroom stall graffiti-
And then, she must deliver.
Plump and wriggling, some come quickly.
Others are breach.
The darlings stand first, wobble, then prance.
Others are more reserved and crawl.
These will grow to love tailored suits and pocket squares perhaps,
While the darlings have already found the boas and the baubles.
Now, she, proud mother of this brood, must take them out,
Parade them around, introduce them to scrutiny.
And is she judged
From behind spectacles, down the slopes of noses,
With sideways glances replete with envy.
Then she folds them in and takes them home
Where she sits with tea knowing
All of them cannot survive.
She, proud mother, must choose which ones to neglect,
To starve of attention, crumple and forget.
And then, she will sharpen her instrument.
The killing, not nearly as beautiful as the birth.