I spent something like ten hours standing on the darkroom's concrete floors, striding back and forth from enlarger to developer, stop, and fix trays, then out to the light, then back to the photo wash, then back to the enlarger. The long repetition of a tight round, and now my legs are sore.
For part of the day, I had one of my students with me, observing the printing process (frequently offering aesthetic advice, occasionally taking part in the printing). Again and again we watched shards of Ohio and Kentucky swim out of the papers' chemical coatings: water beading on grass here, the long shadow of a fire escape there, the dead droop of a freeze-shocked magnolia branch here, the short sweep of the burnt prairie there.
Later, on my own, I felt my stack of blank paper shrinking and started printing the things I'd like to take with me if I leave the country in the fall. What will put home on my walls? What will take the place of walking the prairie in the evenings next spring? And so I have printed half a barn, the curl of field grass, the silhouette of thorns. And so I have what might look like weeds, like decay, like desolation. And so I have my county. But they are all on paper, not on disk, and so I can't show you what I was up to.
This morning, after I read the Brownings' autumn 1845 revelations to one another that (yes!) their love was mutual (yes yes!), I turned back to James Wright, whose collected poems have been on one of my bedroom's auxiliary nightstand stacks since late last year. I would like to have written this poem. I would like to have been the first to realize that "if I stepped out of my body I would break / into blossom." That's a masterful line break. Look at what it does to your understanding of his realization. (Read the whole poem, too.)
Suddenly I realizeSee how he leaves you to teeter momentarily on that idea of breaking, that idea that he might step out and simply shatter, before he takes you into the joy of his final two words? See how he creates that teetering with a line break after the very word "break"? It is a beautiful thing, in idea and in execution. It is the kind of thing to which I aspire.
That if I stepped out of my body I would break