All afternoon in the photo lab with scraps of birds, paper strips to test exposure time, adjustments for contrast and detail and clarity. Set up the image. Push the button to turn on the white light. Put the paper in the developer. Watch. Watch. A foot, a feather, a finger. A wing. An eye, a beak, a border. Stop the developing. Fix the image. And there, there: a print. A beautiful print, even. Here is the bird I caught from the bird that she caught. Here is her free hand holding the bird, and here her netted hand. Netted as one, caught together, those two.
There is indeed something viscerally different about a print made in a darkroom. I suppose that it has much to do with the papers' technologies: a digital print has inks layered over coated paper, while a print made in a darkroom involves a chemical reaction that changes the paper's coating itself. Perhaps it's also that I'm still printing my otherworldly images of captive birds.
After class, no small amount of photographic walking, just taking care of the day's necessaries. Finally, the new camera starts to feel like a piece of equipment I know how to use, more like an extension of my hands and eyes, more the way the old camera did. Finally, an image looks on the monitor the way it looked to my eye. So: a tree with the sun behind its trunk radiates its branches up and out and its late-afternoon shadow down and out. So: the sun's near-setting makes the snow roseate. So: the trees' silhouettes rail together the vertical world.
So my hands start to ache and burn with chill, so my eyes water while I shoot, so it slips my mind until much later that I can only process these images on my laptop, so I have to offer words but no pictures. So: birds with wings extended. So: sunsets over snowed hills. Tomorrow's pleasures. [And now, now there are pictures.]
And when I tell you I am ready, I mean: I am ready. For what? No: start again. Now it's less for what and more for what not. Waiting. Biding.