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Big Tent Prompt

January 29, 2011

This week in response to the prompt at Big Tent Poetry, I wrote a poem based a photograph (in this case my father’s maternal grandparents) as if from the point of view of a traveling photographer:

The Pursers Sit for a Photograph

While my city subjects preferred posing
in parlors, familiar furnishings, oak mantles,
doorways framing the family group,
the rural photographs I captured
never failed to take me by surprise.

Always out of doors, they chose backdrops
of mailboxes, ancient oak  trees, wishing wells.
They carried shotguns, whistled for bird dogs.
Sometimes they lugged the dining chairs
into the yard, seating mother and father, sober
and unsmiling, while the children, so many
sometimes, some not much younger
than the current Mrs., evidence of ravages
of toil and childbearing with little time
to regain strength.  These two, though,
proud of their automobile, no mule
required, chose to perch in its foreground,
its headlights like bug eyes, as they look
right at me, squinting into the sun,
him silent just long enough for flash,
then resuming his  tale,  sipping his RC Cola ,
daring to look me right in the eye, to call me Son.

And when she smoothed her skirts, retrieving
the apron she had laid across the mailbox,
just out of the camera’s view, ready to head
back inside where chores awaited, he reached
his giant hand, putting it on her shoulder,
as if to tell her Tarry awhile, little lady.
We’ve got company. Work will wait.

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8 Comments leave one →
  1. January 29, 2011 4:06 am

    Aw, sweet! Love the photo and the photographer’s ‘sense’.

  2. January 29, 2011 5:10 am

    A vivid scene, beautifully painted.

  3. January 29, 2011 1:41 pm

    Wow, Nancy~

    You always have a magical way of putting me right there in your poems. I love the whistling for bird dogs, ravages of childbirth, and description of the old car (no mule required)…

    ~laurie

  4. January 29, 2011 5:07 pm

    I almost had the feeling that your prose was washed in sepia. Your descriptions, along with the POV made me feel like I was the photographer’s assistant, waiting for the next set of instructions, while taking in the scene. (The picture speaks volumes, too.)

  5. January 29, 2011 6:17 pm

    Excellent! What a great poem–loved it. Fit the photo wonderfully.

  6. January 30, 2011 5:49 am

    Awesome poem…

    singular thoughts

  7. January 30, 2011 6:19 pm

    Beautiful narrative. I love the RC (so true to the place & time) & the smiling pride. (I had noticed her smile — so unusual in many photos). The gesture of him having her lounge a bit is sweet. And I long for it to be true.

  8. January 30, 2011 9:20 pm

    Great narrative – and what looks like a treasured photo.

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