Wednesday, January 14, 2009

No Photo:

It was the size of a postage stamp, yellowed -
I found it in the bottom of a box of things
Barely worth saving, things you think
Might have a use, but never do. And because
The contents were of no consequence
I can’t remember what they were, or even who
I thought they belonged to. But I dreamed
Through the little photograph
Of two young men, heads leaned together
To fit in a small space, it seemed, that was
The excuse, but obviously they loved each other
Too.
Army buddies maybe, but I knew
From the wild tender light in their eyes
That they wanted nothing more
Than to touch the other – no pillow down
Could give the peace
Each gave the other cheek to cheek.

Looking at it somehow made my
Case for love, with my lover then –
In my longing we were like these men,
Who could show no one
But the camera’s lens
The reason they were such close friends –
no other body on this earth
Could stir such passion
That it must be passed
From skin to skin,
Though in the world’s despite.
We’d found each other against
Every odd, to hell with them!

I transferred it to my own
Little box of odds and ends – I
Tried to situate it in my art – I used
It for a kite whose string
Of hearts was
Held in the teeth of a runaway fox.
For that I had to punch a tiny
Hole through the old and glossy
Paper. That was the last time
I can remember seeing it. The
Collage didn’t really work – nothing
I added to it with my painting
Was half as moving as how
Their light had faded.
And in a season
Mine had too.

We are allowed no history. Tonight
As I’m looking through a hundred years of
Family photos there is no
Evidence
In a hundred handsome faces
Of what I know is true. Some of these men
Loved other men, but of all of them
Only two
Made a pact with time
That could endure the coarse censure
Of a world that works so well
It cannot give us room
To dwell in peace.
You don’t think
God or nature made us to embrace -
Even a camera knows better than that;
We died in a flash of light
And left the darkness
You endure.

10 comments:

Cathy said...

So beautiful!

Dan Dutton said...

Thanks! I've been mulling this one, like a peeve, for weeks. I woke up in the middle of the night remembering more exactly how I made the collage ~ but not what happened to it.

Cathy said...

This is stunning on so many levels - one of your best ever, I think.

Mary Beth said...

How honest and deeply beautiful! NO PHOTO was the link I needed to understand why CLAY felt (at times) so much like THE FAWN.

I pray you find more faces, more stories that longed to be told. May their stories complete your own and gave you "place."

Thank you for brave, straight forward art. I'm so proud of you!

Dan Dutton said...

Thanks MB. It's gratifying that you sense the link between those 3 ~ "Voice X" grew out of contemplating (and experiences of) the phenomena that the Yoruba people call Eshu - the agent of change, mediation, interchange, language even - corresponding, at least for comparative mythologists, with Mercury, & a bunch of other Trickster/Messenger characters (Like Coyote, & Brer Rabbit) and, of course, Pan himself.
(Mercury was supposed to be Pan's father, but in the odd way that history and civilizations work, Pan is much older, with a linguistic root in the Proto-Indo-European language that preceded Greek - (and English).

No Photo attempts to connect a lot ~ so I sent out feelers to every agent of change I could think of! Poor head! (or as G.W.B. recently said, "self-pity, isn't it pathetic"... possibly the most sensible line he's ever uttered.)

One of the sources that I'm rereading for this project is the work of mythologist Hilda Roderick Davidson, specialist in Northern European, Norse, Germanic, Celtic, etc., myths ~ her careful descriptions of what is known from ancient poems and the excavations of Germanic sites are really helping with this poem. I'm just hoping I can keep the threads braiding for the whole hundred years I have to describe!

My interlibrary loan librarian just called me to say that the British Museum's 4 volume set on the Sutton Hoo ship burial has arrived for me. My mind clapped, my eyes groaned.

You should see my work table! SIGH!

SBD said...

I recently read a Chinese philosopher, I quote: a wise man's expression is like that of a newborn calf. This sentiment seems to most convey the wonder of all the topics you are revealing to us, the fortunate readers...the wisdom of a newborn calf, bringing the future to us from all the pieces of a memory quilt.
I am grateful

SBD said...

I recently read a Chinese philosopher, I quote: a wise man's expression is like that of a newborn calf. This sentiment seems to most convey the wonder of all the topics you are revealing to us, the fortunate readers...the wisdom of a newborn calf, bringing the future to us from all the pieces of a memory quilt.
I am grateful

Dan Dutton said...

Thanks! It's my pleasure! On that note, the next blog is yesterday's painting ~ of Bobby & the newborn calf...

Apifera Farm said...

really beautiful, Dan. This I can see as a short movie, no words but the poem.

Dan Dutton said...

Thanks K.! Are you snowed in?