One of the privileges of being a senior was we got to have our class photos taken, not in the gym by a traveling photographer, but in a real studio. We were loaded on a school bus and taken to Fostoria where probably every other senior in northwest Ohio was duly photographed.
Since I was yearbook editor, and had made the arrangements for this, I was the first one in front of the camera. While the other girls were still primping before the long mirrors, I was under the lights in an otherwise darkened room, trying to scope out the set-up, how the lights were placed and what the background was made of – the largest sheet of paper I had ever seen. All too quickly I turned this way and that, tilted my head, lifted my chin, and repeatedly smiled. Far too soon I was ushered back into the real world of autumn sunshine.
While waiting for the 31 of my classmates to go through the same experience Ruth Ann and Louise and I were allowed to go shopping. We didn’t go far because we had found a shop with a sale. None of us intended to buy anything, but it was fun to look at new things and make snarky remarks that kept us in giggles. Suddenly I found a dark green, short-sleeved sweater with a mock turtle-neck collar, something that would never appeal to me, but here it was, insisting that I buy it. By some accident its price had been marked down below the others in the pile and I had enough in my wallet to buy it.
Walking back to the studio I felt self-conscious because I had bought a sweater and my friends had nothing. In the showroom of the studio the assistant had already mounted some of the proofs. I saw my picture and my heart sank all the way down through my saddle shoes. The pale beige sweater with the angora collar was so wrong for my face and short hair. It was as if the head belonged to someone and the body belonged to another person. To calm my rage at myself I looked at the proofs of the others. There! Mary Lou, my anamnesis and constant competition had worn a red blouse (her sister’s) and she looked super.
Within minutes I had talked my way into having a retake and I was wearing my new dark green sweater. It wasn’t as classy as Mary Lou’s sexy red but it was better than beige.
Today, children have a ball flying off on the new website god.com. Yesterday they got introduced to a young guy’s dream who, tattooed wanted to manifest herself showing up as his own private text.
What was the show about?
Want to see what I offered to the program? [Opens five of seven buttons on her blouse.] You know, there was in days of yore this ancient technique of writing prose plus verse. Genre-club-gossip has it that even American writers have chosen a successful method how to have fun with.
Let me look at - read it?
[He stutters hanging over her breasts]
Once there was a mother and her baby whale. They tried to relax by going north then close to the San Francisco area. A wide open river mouth pulled them in, and suddenly, they didn’t believe it, just this mouth swallowed the young whale and spit it out as “a 4-legged creature.” Imagine the ancient sucker viewing Pier 1 and the skyline behind it?
and eye-to-eye contact
the polluted island’s
Starbuck-coffee and milk kisses
lost in a forest of flowers
sun-warmed blossoms press
against bare legs begging
to be touched
first a cupping of fingers
to support a rose as one
lifts the rounded breast
oh, yes the size and shape
of the aureole soft and open
reversing nature's flow a bud
knotted with ridges firm
yet still and always a flower
the fountain of my pleasure
twinned so each hand plucks
as on the taut string
the song of honey in the heart
a bell tolls deep within
the sacred chapel held up
by legs quivering to the tone
the roaring of a wild wind
as when the bright sun blinds
unseen a letting down of wetness
on a straw that mixed
motion keeping each
each keeping emotion
within elastic back bones’
strategies at bay
You read it I sing it two tongues.
As I shuffled my proofs over and over at home, trying to pick the very best one – the one that would keep me seventeen forever, I was still very unhappy with the way I looked. I felt this just wasn’t me. Or at least not the me I wanted to be. In the weekly newspaper, the Pandora Times, was an ad for the Neu-Art photography studio in Bluffton. On a whim, but strongly determined, I made an appointment.
I felt so adult driving my parent’s Dodge coupe the ten miles and even more pleased when I found a parking space I could maneuver into without whacking a fender. The door to the studio was set back from the sidewalk and on the small walls were glamorous photos of people I knew. Yes!
I bounded up the narrow dark stairs as if they did not exist in my world and opened the door into another era. The tiny room, about the size of our kitchen, was crammed with antique velvet plush curly-leg furniture and faces of more relatives than any of us could have. I had the feeling I had blundered into someone’s personal shrine. It even smelled dry and dusty as if nothing there had moved since 1914.
I was relieved to find the photographer to be the guy with two kids I had taken care of during a church event a couple of years ago. He, though, was extremely nervous, and I was aware of the early dusk of December. He took some photos of me wearing the same green sweater and then seeming to be unhappy with my looks, asked me if I would like to try one in a drape.
I knew what that meant. That was the way film stars were photographed. Yes! Mr. Gingreich handed me a pile of black velvet and pointed me to a bathroom barely small enough to close the door. It took a minute to figure out that my head went through the slit and the openings were supposed to point down my chest and back. That was the only way I could keep it up on my shoulders and I hoped that this was the right way to wear the thing.
I felt very naked as I threaded my way over light cables and around lamp tripods. It was a relief to sit down until the lights were turned on and I felt very exposed. It seemed to take Mr. Gingreich forever to readjust the focus and apertures. I tried to calm myself by admiring his antique cherry-wood Horseman 8 x 10 camera and I was surely chattering nonsense to which he was not listening.
He stepped around the camera and came into my lighted space to take one cautious finger and pull the drape farther out on my shoulder. Pressing the rubber bulb in his hand he caught the glow of invitation.
In the name of controversial attempts, both of the authors had chosen different and modified genres adequately corresponding to each other’s ideas. We are looking at a special way and new strategies introducing a kind of parallelism that enlarges older concepts of the ghazal, here done collaboratively by two persons – including graphics - evaluating ever more variations in the territories of symbiotic poetry.
What was formerly called the set up of a “theme,” here in our endeavor the thesis is part of a program that constitutes itself over time as a work in progress. Capacities are involved that may create contents looking like if partly planed, partly entrusted to the guiding spirits calling us to work in the direction of the so far unexplored regions.
Overlooking a delta of inspirations, we learned to give the most attention to the incoming streams carrying clean water, healthy fish, unpolluted borders, and no levies, so the storms can work their way into the surrounding land and keep it fertile. But without warning we switched to the avalanches of misfortune, misery, devastation, and home made inflictions. The mix is in the offer - leaving questions unanswered, some we name:
1) Do you, the readers want to function as the necessary additional party interacting in a play that exercises constantly changing sceneries, paradoxical appearing events, both physically as much as spiritually?
2) Is the inspection of an old Photograph a valuable introspection with connections to experiences a wider audience is able to chare?
3) Do the leaps used by both authors make the readers understand better the leaps in their own history?
4) Are those stories indeed the authors’ “project” or are they more or less accidentally appearing versions of two peoples’ traumata between birth and death?
5) Are here junction and disjunction of events organized so readers can experience their own suspicious thoughts?
6) Do the readers feel that the cages, the prisons of genre are outlived, and additional poetically motivated ideas should be given a chance to come into play? Since by now for some one hundred years, the visual arts gave us samples of space-consuming, multi-faceted installations - are we on the path to follow through?